Defending Environmentalists

RECEIVED Tue., Aug. 7, 2007

Dear Editor,
    As a representative of an environmental group criticized recently by Chrystia Wynnck [“Postmarks” online, July 31], I take exception to her interpretations of recent campaigns against proposed coal plants and our "juvenile,” "ridiculous," "anti-everything" stance as part of a campaign against new nuclear plants at the recent opening of The Simpsons [“Naked City,” News, Aug. 3]. Her position that our campaign "resulted in the Austin area getting a dirty old coal plant" is, well, ridiculous and juvenile. In fact, the campaign – which consisted not only of environmentalists and activists but Dallas business leaders; more than 30 cities, school districts, and counties; a variety of local politicians; and others – led to the scaling back of plans to build a whole lot more coal plants. And now Central Texas leaders, including those from the aforementioned Texas Cities Clean Air Coalition, and the local opponents to the Oak Grove coal plant have separately filed motions and lawsuits to overturn that decision. It's not over.
    Now the 2005 Energy Bill provides literally billions of dollars for new nuclear plants, and seven have been proposed in Texas. Our photogenic, highly effective, street-theatre antics not only resulted in coverage but began to bring attention to an issue that is not on people's radar screen. The Lone Star chapter and others are opposed to both new coal plants and nuclear plants because they prevent a future energy plan that we do support: energy efficiency and renewables. The more we invest in old-style technologies the less likely an alternative energy development strategy without the pollution occurs. This energy platform is available on Sierra Club's website. Recently, the U.S. House passed legislation that would require that 15% of energy come from renewable sources. We and others also just helped pass a law doubling the energy-efficiency requirements for investor-owned utilities here in Texas. This doesn't happen without efforts by a lot of people and organizations.
    Meanwhile, I will don a C. Montgomery Burns mask one day or lobby a member of state or federal Congress the next (but without the mask). If Ms. Wynnyk doesn't want to play "Solar Girl" at our next renewable-energy event, I would invite her to join Sierra Club or some other group, add her perspective, and help us build people and political power. The way to build power is not to decide you don't have it and can't act but to build it one event at a time.
Cyrus Reed
Lone Star Chapter
Sierra Club
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