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Public Citizen's Texas office researches and recommends policy that will lower electric bills, increase clean and renewable sources of energy and combat greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global climate change. Photo by Raymond Thompson for KUT News.

What Is Public Citizen?

Background

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy project founded in 1971 to champion citizen interests before Congress, the executive branch agencies and the courts. Public Citizen challenges what it considers to be abusive practices by the pharmaceutical, nuclear and automobile industries. With offices in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, the project has five different policy groupsCongress Watch Division, Energy Program, Global Trade Watch, the Health Research Group, and the Litigation Group.

Public Citizen’s climate and energy program promotes clean, sustainable and cheap energy. Program goals include pushing for strong regulation of energy markets, educating the public on the dangers of continued reliance on dirty energy sources, helping to solve climate change by promoting localized clean energy alternatives and holding large energy corporations accountable by exposing wrongdoing.

Public Citizen has partnered with multiple environmental and legislature groups in Texas to create and expand energy efficiency measures throughout the state. The organization helped fund Clean Energy for Austin, a group that links nonprofits, businesses and individuals interested in promoting clean energy in the state’s capitol.

In 2001, Public Citizen helped to pass the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, which strives to ensure clean air in the state. The Reduction Plan has received criticism for including businesses that were awarded grants but failed to meet the plan’s air quality requirements and/or had inaccurate or incomplete information in the plan’s databases.

Most recently, the energy division of Public Citizen teamed up with the Sierra Club to fight against the proposed building of White Stallion, a coal plant slated for Bay City, Texas. Both groups oppose the use of coal, nuclear energy and diesel, citing their harmful effects on the environment.

 

Latest Posts

High-Level Nuclear Waste Could One Day Come to Texas, But It’s a Long Road

The United States’ total high-level radioactive waste could fit inside a football stadium with room to spare. Right now, it’s distributed between the country’s 100 commercial nuclear power plants and stored on site. But all that waste could be headed to Texas in the coming years. One of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus’ interim charges for [...]

How An Overhaul of Eminent Domain Law Failed In Texas

This is part two of a three-part series devoted to looking at efforts to overhaul eminent domain in Texas and what may come next for landowners, pipeline companies, and the oil and gas industry. Read Part One here. At the outset of this year’s regular legislative session, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle filed [...]

Governor Signs Water Bills, Vetoes Reform for Oil and Gas Regulators

On Friday, Governor Rick Perry signed several water conservation bills intended to address the state’s drought and water supply problem, and also vetoed a major Ethics Commission sunset bill. The sunset bill, Senate Bill 219, would have required members of the Railroad Commission, the state authority charged with regulating the oil and gas industry, to [...]

No Reforms for Railroad Commission This Session

While it's called the Railroad Commission of Texas, it actually deals with regulating oil and gas in the state. And a name change isn't likely to happen this session.

A name change and several ethics reforms on the table this legislative session for the Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees oil and gas drilling in the state, have died. The Texas Energy Report was the first with the news, tweeting this afternoon: “RAILROAD COMMISSION SUNSET DEAD FOR THIS SESSION.” After a lengthy review of [...]

Why Coal is On the Decline in Texas

A coal miner looks on as Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at American Energy Corportation on August 14, 2012 in Beallsville, Ohio.

One of the few coal power plants still being planned in Texas is facing setbacks. The controversial White Stallion Energy Center in Matagorda County had been working with the Texas grid to examine how it will work once its completed, a process called a grid interconnection study. It’s a typical requirement for new power plants, along [...]

Why a Truly ‘Green’ Car Race Might Not Be Possible for Formula One

A Red Bull Racing car wins the Korean Formula One Grand Prix in October.

Three model cars sit side-by-side on the windowsill of Zach Baumer’s office in East Austin, memories of a childhood spent with his family at Indy 500 races. “Growing up in Indianapolis, I just have sort of a thing for cars,” he says. “Not that I think we should be driving single occupancy vehicles! But … [...]

How a New Utility Rule Could Mean Less Energy Efficiency for Texas

Energy efficiency in Texas will become less of a priority under new state rules.

On Friday, the Public Utility Commission, which oversees much of the electricity market in Texas, voted to make energy efficiency less of a priority in the power-hungry state. While Texas’ population and industry is booming, not enough new power generation is coming on line to meet energy needs during times of peak demand. In 1999, [...]

Ron Curry Appointed New Regional Administrator for EPA

Ron Curry has been appointed as the new regional administrator of the EPA.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has appointed Ron Curry, a former New Mexico Environment Department official, as the new regional administrator of Region Six of the EPA. That area covers Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico. In an email to StateImpact Texas, a spokesperson for Region Six of the EPA says that “will provide valuable insight into [...]

Rule Changes at TCEQ May Be in the Works

Director of Public Citizen Texas Tom "Smitty" Smith.

Yana Skorobogatov of StateImpact Texas researched and reported this article. At a public hearing today in Austin, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality heard from groups worried about proposed changes to the way the state agency tracks emissions and pollution by companies. A proposal before the Commission as part of the state’s sunset review process [...]

Massive Solar Project Coming to San Antonio

The 380-acre Webberville Solar Farm outside of Austin.

Just days after the ribbon was cut on the largest solar farm in Texas outside Austin, San Antonio has announced a new solar project that would dwarf its neighbor to the North: a 400 megawatt solar project that would be twice as large as any solar farm currently runningin the world. Some key points: There [...]

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