Saturday, September 27, 2008

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson's Tech Braintrust

President's Corner: By Norris McDonald
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson knows how to put on a forum. She sponsored her 16th forum at the 2008 Annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. But don't think that she just goes through the motions. Clearly she orchestrated this event like a maestro. Her staff operated like a finely tuned precision team. They produced art. Thank you.

Congresswoman Johnson met us for Breakfast at 7 a.m. at the Grand Cafe at the Grand Hyatt hotel. She got to know each panelist a little by participating in engaging conversation. This was the first conference for some of the panelists and one would have thought that it was the congresswoman's too based on her enthusiam. The buffet breakfast was excellent too. And to top this off she provided exquisite chaffeured transportation for the panelists to the convention center. She made us feel like stars.

The theme of the Science and Technology Braintrust was "Today's Technology for Tomorrow's Environment." Congresswoman's Bernice Johnson's statement:

Thank you for attending the 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Science and Technology Braintrust. As a senior member on the House Committee on Science & Technology, I am dedicated to diversifying our domestic workforce in fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Exchanging ideas and engaging in a dialogue is essential in recruiting and developing our next generation of STEM professionals. During this year's S&T Braintrust we will examine the next generation of environmental technology.
It is my hope that today's discussion will inspire our next generation of scientists to pursue careers in the STEM fields.Your participation is key for a successful Braintrust. I believe that today's discussions will spark imaginations and leave each of us with a new viewpoint.

The panelists included (in order of presentation):

Sheryl Lee Ralph, Actress and education advocate
Norris McDonald, President, African American Environmentalist Association
Miquela Craytor, Executive Director, Sustainable South Bronx
Miranda Anderson, Director of Corporate Affairs for Sustainability, Wal-Mart
Bob Langert, V.P. of Corporate Social Responsibility, McDonald's
Curtis Etherly, V.P. of Public Affairs, Coca-Cola

Congresswoman Johnson recruited about 40 high school students to attend the forum.
They were bright eyed, enthusiastic and asked interesting questions. Sheryl Lee Ralph provided an inspirational message to them and they responded accordingly. They rushed the stage after the presentation to meet her. She was very accomdating and patiently engaged each and every student who approached her. It is also interesting that Ms. Ralph costarred in "The Distinguished Gentleman" with actor Eddie Murphy, which was based in Washington, D.C. with Mr. Murphy playing a congressman.

The forum was well attended with a standing room only packed house. After the forum, the congresswoman's militarily efficient staff herded us back to our transportation at the front of the convention center and we were wisked to The Willard Hotel for a fabulous lunch sponsored by Texas Instruments and a presentation on, "Dropouts, Diplomas, and Dollars-U.S. High Schools and the Nation's Economy," by former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise.

All-in-all it was a wonderful event. I attended my first CBC conference in 1979 and I organized the first Energy Braintrust for the late Congressman Mickey Leland. But this was far and away the best event I have ever participated in at a CBC conference. Thank you Congresswoman Johnson.

I am pictured with Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, top, and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, bottom.

Monday, September 15, 2008

In Memoriam: Robert J. Knox

Bob Knox was a friend and inspiration to AAEA as he was to many other institutions and people all over the country.

Robert J. Knox was a founding Deputy Director and former Acting Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Justice(OEJ). Mr. Knox was an engineer by training and he began his career in Region 4 as a manpower development specialist working on water related issues. He moved to Region 2 where he led manpower and training programs.

In the early 1980s he served as the Director of the Office of Civil Rights. Thereafter, he was the Hazardous Waste Ombudsman for OSWER. When the Office of Environmental Justice was formed in 1992, he served as the founding Deputy Office Director with Dr. Clarice Gaylord, then OEJ Director. Bob spent his last 12 years in EPA working on community engagement activities. Bob retired from EPA in December 2004. In his retirement, he began taking coursework toward a masters degree from Howard University's School of Divinity. He was also a former deacon at the Gethsemane Baptist Church.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

AAEA on Eddie Bernice Johnson Science/Technology Braintrust

On September 26th, Congresswoman Johnson (D-TX), left, a long-time member of the House Science Committee, will host the Science and Technology Braintrust. The Braintrust is a panel discussion that is part of a larger event called the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference. This year's Braintrust will focus on the technology of energy and environmental conservation. We will discuss sustainability from the academic-, corporate-, and federal perspectives as well as the education and skills needed for students of color to pursue careers in these areas.

Event: Science & Technology Braintrust: How Science is Saving the Environment. A panel discussion on novel efforts to promote sustainability, and the science behind the efforts.Date: Friday, September 26, 2008, from 9-noonPlace: Washington, D.C. Convention Center, Room 149-AAudience: Approximately 100. Many will be school children from the D.C. area, and there will also be federal agency officials, nonprofit leaders, and other policy leaders.


- Sheryl Lee Ralph - Actress and education advocate

- Norris McDonald - President, African American Environmentalist Association

- Miquela Craytor - Executive Director, Sustainable South Bronx

- Miranda Anderson - Director of Corporate Affairs for Sustainability, Wal-Mart

- Bob Langert - Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, McDonald's

- Donald Foley - Executive Director, Progressive Automotive XPRIZE- DC

- Area Schools

Moderator:- Cynné Simpson - Anchor, ABC7/WJLA-TV

Thursday, August 7, 2008

EPA Denies Texas Renewable Fuel Standard Exemption Request

EPA announced on August 7 it will not relax the standard for ethanol to be added to gasoline. Texas Governor Rick Perry petitioned the EPA in late April to grant a 50% waiver on the nation's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which calls for 9 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be added to gasoline supplies this year. This ruling rejects the general belief that ethanol production from corn is artificially raising food prices. Critics believe ethanol production has contributed to raising food prices. The EPA acknowledged that the RFS has resulted in a rise in corn feed prices, but said the mandate has only added 7 cents to each bushel.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 RFS required 5.4 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2008. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 increased the standard to 9 billion gallons in 2008, with annual increases to 36 billion gallons required in 2022. However, Section 211(o)(7) offers a safety valve - a construct familiar to many energy and environmental statutes. The economic harms flowing from an inadequate supply of ethanol were intended to be the basis of a waiver. Because supply concerns have placed undue pressure on food prices, the case has been made for a waiver, and it would have been within EPA's clear discretion to have granted the waiver request in whole or in part. The RFS is designed to expand annual biofuel use to 36 billion gallons by 2022 with 21 billion gallons from switch grass, wood chips, municipal garbage, and other cellulosic sources.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Commitment to Earth

Earth Month has come and gone. Environmental activism was a hot topic from Earth Hour on March 29th through the end of April. However, since it’s gone—now what?

Do we put away our reusable shopping bags and go back to plastic? Start buying bottled water again? Stop ride-sharing? Of course not! Even though the day is gone, with pollution on the rise and earth’s resistance to it on the decline, we still need to take charge and do something to help save our planet.

Expanding everyone’s awareness of this important cause is critical to our future and the well-being of the entire planet. In honor of Earth Day—everyday—we're asking people to commit to continuing your part in reducing your carbon footprint.

Visit Web sites like SarasNow, EarthEasy or The Neststore to find out what you can do to help save our planet.

As part of our environmental responsibility, we’re making Earth Day last all year long. By recycling, reusing, reducing and educating, we are protecting and restoring the Earth’s resources. Get Active. Go Green.—delmetria millener,

Friday, March 7, 2008

Texas Electricity Going Green

Texas electricity customers looking to switch to a renewable energy plan can now shop and compare green power at Texas' top electricity companies offer several options to purchase clean, pollution-free power derived from 100 percent renewable resources--giving Texans the advantage of going green with environmentally-friendly options at competitive prices.

For customers in areas that do not offer renewable energy plans, the option to purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) is now available. RECs represent one megawatt hour (MWh) of renewable electricity generated and delivered on the grid. ElectricityTexas customers can offset all or a portion of their energy usage by purchasing RECs. Consumers will get the opportunity to purchase RECs and offset their energy consumption after ordering service from a non-renewable electricity provider through ElectricityTexas.

About ElectricityTexasElectricityTexas is a leading site in the state of Texas for comparing, ordering and connecting electricity service. The deregulated Texas electricity market allows Texans to shop for service by comparing incentives and special offers, prices, energy source options and the background and reputation that each energy company offers. ElectricityTexas customers have options to not only lower their monthly bills, but also the option to purchase renewable or alternative energy as well. ElectricityTexas is a member of the WhiteFence network. (eMediaWire)

Fruit of the Orchard: Environmental Justice in East Texas

Protect Texas Parks

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Low-Level Nuclear Waste Dump Proposed for West Texas

Waste Control Specialists (WCS) is requesting a license from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to build a low-level radioactive waste dump in Andrews County, on the New Mexico border about 130 miles northwest of Midland. WCS, owned by Harold Simmons, wants two licenses to store low-level radioactive material at a 1,300-acre former ranch. Andrews County, which has a population of about 15,000, and the state would each get 5 percent of the gross receipts from the dump operations. A uranium enrichment plant is currently being constructed in New Mexico just across the border from the WCS site.

In October 2007, TCEQ officials issued a draft license that, if made final, would allow WCS to dispose of radioactive waste byproducts, which includes leftover equipment and residue from uranium mining and processing. A draft license triggers a public comment and hearing period that lasts about one year, with a three-member commission deciding whether to issue the license or not. WCS has spent more than four years and tens of millions of dollars seeking to develop the nation's largest private disposal site for low-level radioactive waste. The TCEQ licenses it seeks would allow it to store radioactive materials from Texas and Vermont nuclear power plants (although not the highly radioactive fuel rods), medical and industrial facilities and some federal weapons programs. Public opposition has killed plans to develop publicly run radioactive waste dumps. Byproducts material is less toxic than low-level radioactive waste. (Houston Chronicle)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Clinton & McCain Win Texas Primary: Environmental Issues?

Senator John McCain secured the Republican nomination for president and Senator Hillary Clinton prevented certain defeat by Senator Barack Obama by winning the Texas primary. How does Hillary Clinton compare to John McCain on enviroment issues?

Clinton has introduced environmental justice legislation in the U.S. Senate and held the first hearing on the issue in the history of the body. McCain has ignored environmental justice as an issue. McCain supports nuclear power and Clinton is 'agnostic' on the technology. Clinton and McCain believe that global warming is a human-caused condition and both have mitigation plans, but McCain has been aggressively promoting climate change legislation for years. McCain supported the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Clinton opposed it. Both senators were not present for the vote on the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which passed 86 to 8 with 6 Not Voting.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

AAEA Texas Is Live and Blogging

delmetria millener here and ready to go. Texas is a big state. And although we are a small but powerful group, we look forward to being your beacon of information about energy and environmental issues in the Lone Star State of Texas.