Monday, December 27, 2010

More on EPA Versus Texas on Climate Change Reg Fight

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking control of carbon-emission rules in Texas after Governor Rick Perry rejected new federal regulations intended to combat climate change. The EPA will decide directly on greenhouse-gas permits for companies seeking to build or upgrade power plants and oil refineries in Texas. The EPA’s nationwide carbon rules, imposed under the Clean Air Act, take effect January 2, 2011. Texas is the only state that has refused to implement the new rules.

AAEA supports EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases.  We believe the rules can lead to increased job creation via innovative methods and technologies. These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home.

Texas critics believe the rules are unnecessarily burdensome mandates on the state’s energy sector and  threatens hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs.  Business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Republicans and some Democrats in Congress are pushing to halt the EPA’s authority over greenhouse gases.

The EPA’s rules are set to start 13 months after the agency declared carbon-dioxide emissions a danger to public health and welfare. The EPA’s “endangerment finding” followed a Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that the agency has the authority to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act.

According to EPA, most states are prepared to grant the permits starting Jan. 2. Seven have agreed to have the agency issue permits while they revise their programs to accommodate the new rules.

According to Texas EPA, Texas emits about 11 percent of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, more than any other state. If Texas were a country it would be the world’s eighth-largest polluter. According to the San Francisco-based Sierra Club, Texas is home to about a fourth of U.S. oil refining capacity and has more coal-fired electrical capacity than any state in the U.S.

The EPA remains in talks with Texas and views federal control of greenhouse-gas permits in the state as a temporary arrangement.

The EPA will propose new standards for utilities by July and for oil refineries by December. Those rules will be made final for power plants by May 2012 and for refineries by November 2012, she said.

The EPA officials said today it’s too early to know what the new rules, known as “new source performance standards” for pollutants under the Clean Air Act, will entail. (Bloomberg Business Week, 12/27/2010)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Texas is making improvements toward sustainability all over the state in education, energy and the environment. Are you doing your part? Get Active. Go Green!


Beginning in January, 2011, the University of Texas at Arlington will offer a Master of Science in Sustainability program in its downtown Dallas location. The one year, 36-hour program, targeted to attorneys, architects, government employees and educators, will focus on the green building (LEED) project, the Energy Star program and high-density development. Full story at UTA.


Through a partnership between the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the University of North Texas in Arlington, four air quality monitors will be installed in North Texas to check for pollution from gas drilling. Full story at TCEQ.


According to a recent report by the Dallas Morning News, electricity prices across Texas are finally below the national average. Now, you can shop for less expensive energy! Full story at Power to Choose.

Get Active. Go Green! with delmetria millener, a freelance writer based in Texas. Contact her at

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Heal Holiday Depression Naturally

The holiday season is a time of love and happiness, joy and peace—a joining of family and friends, eating, celebration and sharing. However, for some people it can also be a time of depression and desolation. People who suffer from what experts refer to as "holiday depression" battle during the holidays with financial burdens, loneliness, unrealistic expectations, stress, fatigue, nostalgia, anxiety and other psychological factors.

But there are cures—natural cures—that not only help heal holiday depression, but prevent the disorder from returning each year. These natural remedies can also be used throughout the year anytime stress, anxiety or depression becomes an issue. These remedies are easy to pull off and do not require much preparation or activity.

To start, make sure you are eating an abundance of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking lemon and water. The sour flavor helps activate the liver which promotes natural healing. Be sure to include green, leafy vegetables like as a nice, big salad with olive oil dressing and drink plenty of water. A spinach salad with walnuts sounds great right about now!

Getting through holiday depression doesn’t stop with what you eat. How you dress, your activities and thought process can also play a part in your high or low mood. To that end, wear bright colors when the weather’s gloomy, volunteer and ease into the holidays with thoughts of helping and hearing other people’s stories—good or bad—because it will allow you to see how valuable your contributions are and that your situation is not always as bad as you think.

During the holidays, depending on your geography, the weather is cool and breezy. So, whenever you can, get outside and take a walk or run. Breathe deeply so the fresh air can generate more oxygen to clear your head.

One thing we all need to do is minimize expectations of family and friends, to avoid unnecessary stress and intensity. Realize that the season is not about what fits your family’s or friends’ image of you and how you’re living. Trying too hard to please or convince your family and friends that you “fit” in some category or image that they have of you can rapidly spiral you into depression

The holidays are the perfect season to catch up on your rest. Getting enough sleep is critical to ending holiday depression because when you’re awake many hours, the liver cannot regenerate like it’s designed to do during late hours.

By all means, avoid consuming too much sugar, refined carbohydrates and empty calorie snacks. Instead, snack on raw vegetables or eat healthy foods you have at home before going to a party so you won’t feel obligated to pile up on energy zapping foods.

Finally, herbs are also a natural way to heal depression. St. John’s Wart and lemon balm are just two of the hundreds of natural, already prepared products that will help restore your energy. A visit to your local, natural food store can help you find out what’s available.

Other Tips:

  • Take a warm shower with a cold rinse

  • Get lots of natural light

  • Laugh a lot to produce hormones that lift your mood

  • Exercise

  • Plan for next year (home projects, business projects, etc.)

  • Write out at least 10 things you plan to accomplish and share with family and friends

  • Practice postive self-talk

Get Active. Go Green! with delmetria millener, a freelance writer based in Texas. Contact her at

Saturday, November 20, 2010

African American Environmental Association: 25th Anniversary


By Norris McDonald

Today is our 25th anniversary.  We was incorporated on November 20, 1985.  The African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA) is the outreach arm of the Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy (Center).

You can see a listing of many of our activities during that time at our original website, which we converted to Multiply when the original Msn Groups platform ended).  There is more activity information at our History page. My career has been very satisfying.  From my beginning in the Fall of 1979 at the Environmental Policy Center (now Friends of the Earth) until today, the adventure has been incredible.  I started out in the Washington, D.C.-based environmental movement.  Jimmy Carter was president and was just finishing a rough 4-year run.  I shook his hand at the Democratic National Convention in New York in 1980 not knowing that Washington was about to get a completely new makeover.  The Reagan era was interesting and quite the challenge for the environmental movement.  I still remember his 'no standard standard' for appliance efficiency standards.  I also remember the Air Florida crash and the Metro subway accident on the day that I was walking back from the U.S. Department of Energy after testifying on appliance standards.

Well, without sounding like the old guy in the room sharing old war time stories that nobody really wants to hear, the situation today is as exciting as ever.  We are embarking on trying to build biomass power plants in Mississippi, California and in Kenya.  The adventure continues and I am having more fun than ever.  Our team is lean and mean and green. 

I have kept the AAEA small on purpose and will continue to do so.  I almost died from respiratory failure in 1991 and 1996 (intubated for 4 days in ICU each time).  After getting divorced and full custody of my son when he was 2 years old, I decided that I wanted to stick around to see my son grow up.  But I also wanted to continue with my entrepreneurial environmentalism.  So keeping it small worked.  Although I still struggle with a chronic acute asthma that could kill me any day, my son is now 18 and I am still 'doing my green thing.'  Life is good.  Hey, and we just opened a new Center Hollywood blog this week (Also see AAEA Hollywood).  Oh, and if you're feeling generous, feel free to click on our Donation button on our sites.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Texas v. Lisa P. Jackson Over Carbon Dioxide Regulations

Texas is resisting the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to regulate carbon under the clean air laws of the 1970s. EPA is also threatening to punish Texas and other states that do not comply with the CO2 reduction program with a de facto moratorium on any major energy or construction projects. Under the Clear Air Act, the EPA's national office chooses priorities, but state regulators run the programs and issue the necessary permits. When orders from HQ change, as with carbon over the last year, states get three years to revise their "implementation plans." But in August, EPA decided that the law posed too long a wait and decreed that if these plans aren't updated by an arbitrary January 2011 deadline, that EPA will override the states and run the carbon permitting process itself. 

Texas believes this coercion is illegal and that EPA cannot usurp the law's statutory language about the federalist balance of power between Washington and the states. Texas filed an unusual lawsuit last week with the D.C. appeals circuit calling it an "ultra vires" act—literally, "beyond the powers"—and requesting an emergency stay of the EPA's regulations because of the imminence of irreparable harm.

No major construction project in America can go forward without EPA air quality and pollution permits. Texas believes that EPA's decision to strip permitting authority from the states is equivalent to a ban on major construction or building expansion—not merely Texan refineries but any kind of carbon-heavy utility, industrial production, manufacturing plant or even large office buildings.  The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state EPA branch, estimates that 167 current state projects would have to be junked in 2011, more after the first year.  (WSJ, 10/10/2010)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Remembering Environmental Justice Legend Dana Alston

Dana Alston was 47 years old when she died 11 years ago on August 7, 1999.

Dana Alston, left, was a leader of the original environmental justice movement that started in the 1980's. She was one of the organizers of the first National Environmental Justice Leadership Summit in 1992. She participated in the meetings to convince the U.S. EPA to open an Office of Environmental Justice. She was a committed environmental justice activist and the movement clearly benefited from her leadership. We remember you Dana. And we will never forget you.

Dana Alston received a Bannerman Fellowship in 1992 in recognition of her leadership in the development of the environmental justice movement. The Bannerman Fellowship Program was founded in 1987 on the belief that the most effective approach to achieving progressive social change is by organizing low-income people at the grassroots level. In 2002, the Fellowship Program was renamed the Alston/Bannerman Fellowship Program in honor of Dana Alston.

Dana died on August 7, 1999 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Dana was a native of New York and lived in Washington, D.C. She was in San Francisco for treatment of kidney disease and consequences of a stroke when she died.

Her son, Khalil Alston-Cobb, now 17, resides in Clinton, Maryland. He is (or was at 16) a skateboard enthusiast (see videos). Here is how Khalil describes himself on his MySpace page:

"I like Skateboarding, Playing videogames, listening to music, talking to Gurls, surfing the Web, and Chillin wit the Homies."
Khalil is also on Twitter. He has a great skateboarding video on He is listed on Children of the Struggle. Dana would be very proud of her teenage son. All who knew her are not surprised that Khalil is an energetic and productive young man.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

EPA Disapproves Texas Flexible Air Permit Program

Today, EPA announced final disapproval of the flexible permit program that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) had submitted for inclusion in its clean-air implementation plan. EPA has determined that this program does not meet several national Clean Air Act requirements that help to assure the protection of health and the environment. EPA is disapproving the permit program after determining that it allows companies to avoid certain federal clean air requirements by lumping emissions from multiple units under a single “cap” rather than setting specific emission limits for individual pollution sources at their plants.

The Clean Air Act ensures that businesses across the country operate efficiently and cleanly to safeguard public health from harmful levels of air pollution. Under the Act, all states must develop State Implementation Plans for meeting federal requirements to protect public health. Those plans must include an air permitting program to set pollution levels for industrial facilities.

In 1992, EPA approved Texas’ State Implementation Plan but since 1994 the state has submitted over 30 regulatory changes to the air pollution permitting part of the plan. Today’s action represents a final EPA decision to disallow one of the most important changes made by Texas for failing to meet the protective measures of the Clean Air Act.

In September 2009, EPA proposed to disapprove the state's flexible permits program and invited public comment. EPA has carefully reviewed comments and decided to finalize its proposed disapproval of the program. To insure no disruptions for facilities, EPA has reached out to industry, the environmental community and TCEQ to discuss how to convert flexible permits into more detailed permits that comply with the Clean Air Act. One tool proposed by EPA is encouraging flexible permit holders to participate in a voluntary compliance audit program. The program will expedite efforts to identify emission limits, operating requirements and monitoring, reporting and recordkeeping data. Public comment on the proposed audit program closes on July 2, 2010.

On June 16, 2010, the TCEQ approved proposed revisions to the state’s flexible permit rules. The public comment period on the rules package opens on July 2, 2010 and runs through August 2, 2010. The state must then finalize its proposal and submit it to EPA for review. EPA will examine the new rules when submitted but believes that public health and federal law require disapproval of the existing program without further delay.

More about activities in EPA Region 6

Sunday, April 25, 2010

America the Beautiful? Not So Much!

Erykah Badu. In her "Window Seat" video, the neo-Queen stripped naked as she walked along the JFK assassination site in downtown Dallas. According to Badu, she was speaking out against "groupthink," or conforming. The singer further noted on Twitter, "the butt naked truth is powerful America!"

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA. When Golden Girls star, Bea Arthur, died a year ago on April 25, she left money to the animal rights organization in her will. To mark the one-year anniversary of her death, PETA published an ad that features the "Golden Girl" attacking the "Golden Arches," McDonald's, for their refusal to stop their chicken-slaughtering practices.

On Earth Day, April 22, on a full-page in the Chicago Tribune, the ad read, "McCruelty: It's enough to make Bea Arthur roll over in her grave." Arthur was a firm supporter of PETA and animal rights activist.

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. In a reality-show format, world-renowned chef and best-selling author, Jamie Oliver, attempts to keep Americans alive by improving our eating habits. By teaching America how to cook and prepare healthier foods, Jamie is on a mission to keep (especially) our youth from dying too soon of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other diseases related to unhealthy eating habits.

Last week, I visited a park with a pond that was riddled with pollution. That's the picture that I have shown. Driving down the street, the expressways are bumper-to-bumper with only one person in each car, all going the same way. Animals are being cloned and treated cruelly, foods are being genetically modified and salt and sugar is abundant in everything because Americans are spoiled, greedy, overindulgent brats.

As I look around at all the unneccesary pollution, poison and savagery, I wonder, how can anyone with a clear conscious treat where they live like we do and not feel "funny" about it?

Seeing such blatant disrespect for Mother Earth gets under my skin like almost nothing else. Like the others, in my capacity as the Texas director of the African American Environmentalist Association, I'm taking on an environmental cause with a fierce vengence.

As a writer, it is my job, my duty and my responsibility to report news and information. I'm obligated to tell the facts and not make shit up. Therefore, in honor of Mother Earth's 40th year, I. will. take. my. pen, and. I. will. write.

I will tell the truth, no matter how harsh. I will reveal the truth no matter how insensitive it may sound. I will appeal to my colleagues and other writers to help me with my mission, and I will cause change. This is my cause. I am an advocate.

Finally, I loved and "got" Erykah's video; I applaud PETA and Bea in life and death and I strongly support Jamie. But for those of you that turned your nose up in disgust at Erykah, rolled negativity off your tongues at PETA or dismissed Jamie as rubbish, *eff u!*

I challenge you to discover something that you're the utmost passionate about; something so meaningful that it keeps you up at night thinking of ways to change it, challenge it, revise it or amend it, and tell me what extremes would you be willing to go, to resolve it.

Revolution. Start yours because I'm starting mine—Get Active. Go Green!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Make Earth Day Last All Year Long! Get Active. Go Green!

As part of our environmental responsibility, by recycling, reusing, reducing and educating, we are protecting and restoring the Earth’s resources. Do your part to help make Earth Day last all year long!

To enter my "Green Week" contest, meet me each week to donate as many used books and magazines that you can find around your home or office to recycle!

Attach your name, contact information and the week's Green Blog topic to your donation. The person that donates the most will win their choice of a FREE writing coaching session, FREE editing or a FREE writing project!

Meet me in Dallas each Wednesday at TBAAL (The Black Academy of Arts & Letters), located on the corner of Akard and Canton between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Or, meet me in McKinney each Thursday at the Starbucks on the corner of Custer and Eldorado between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. (Disclaimer: TBAAL and Starbucks are not affiliated with this contest.)

April 1st marks the beginning of Earth Month. Like last year, I'm reminding you that April is Earth Month, and April 22nd is Earth Day! I hope that you spent the entire year making small lifestyle changes that will make a huge, positive impact on Planet Earth.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. For the past 365 days, you've been taking action to save the Planet. To celebrate, make of list of exactly what you did to clean up the Earth.
Are you embarrassed by your lack of effort? Are you proud of the small, but significant effort you put forth? Did your small deeds turn to big deeds until eventually they became part of your lifestyle? Who else did you try to educate? Are you eager to do more?

Whatever you did, there are so many more ways to help save our planet. As a booster, I've made a list to get you started or keep you advocating:

Get Involved. Go Green!

Get Educated. Go Green!

Get Conscious. Go Green!

Get Well. Go Green!

Get Savvy. Go Green!

These and many other such efforts will not only positively impact your daily lifestyle by saving you money, food, paper and other resources, they will protect our planet!

Get Active. Go Green!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"TEXAS TOUGH: The Rise of America's Prison Empire"

By Robert Perkinson (Metropolitan Books - March 2010)

The United States of America, land of the free, imprisons a greater share of its people than any other country, about 1 out of every 100 adults. On any given day, some 2.4 million people are incarcerated, more than the populations of Boston, D.C., and San Francisco combined. But despite the magnitude of imprisonment, the story of how one state came to dominate criminal-justice practices nationwide has never been told.

Covering 150 years of American history, Robert Perkinson’s "TEXAS TOUGH: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire" (Metropolitan Books; on sale: March 16, 2010) is a sweeping account of race, politics, and imprisonment from slavery to the present, with an emphasis on the country’s most locked-down, politically influential state: Texas. With its expansive territory that stretches from South to West, its racially mixed demographics, and its uniquely turbulent history, Texas has played the vanguard role in America’s punitive revolution: from assembly-line executions to isolation supermaxes, from prison privatization to sentencing juveniles as adults. While previous histories have emphasized the North’s rehabilitative approach to criminal justice, this is but a fraction of the story. It is the retributive and profit-driven regime of the South that has ultimately triumphed, and a plantation-based penal system once dismissed as barbaric has become the template for the nation.

Most provocatively, Perkinson argues in TEXAS TOUGH that just as convict leasing and segregation emerged in response to Reconstruction, so today’s mass incarceration, with its vast racial disparities, must be seen as a backlash against civil rights. A Southern style of punitive justice has become increasingly dominant as the nation’s politics have swung to the right. Based on a decade of archival and legal research—plus hundreds of interviews with prisoners, guards, activists, judges, and politicians—TEXAS TOUGH illuminates for the first time the origins of America’s prison juggernaut. At stake is not just the fate of those living behind bars but the vitality of the country’s democratic ideals.

Robert Perkins
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Perkinson, left, is a professor of American Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His writing has appeared in The Nation, The Progressive, and Boston Review, among others. Texas Tough is his first book. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii. TEXAS TOUGH: The Rise of America’s Prison Empireby Robert Perkinson ISBN-10: 0-8050-8069-8. ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-8069-8$35.00, March 16, 2010Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company

Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire
Robert Perkinson, Author and Professor of American History at University of Hawaii

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Tea Party Movement & The Environmental Movement

The first Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee was broadcast on C-SPAN and the attendees looked to be all White. They even bemoaned the lack of minority participation and cited Blacks hither and yon who are participants. It reminded us of the Environmental Movement. Highly racially segregated yet pointing out 'hither and yon' participation. The Environmental Movement is privately proud of its exclusive make up. It makes us wonder if the Tea Party Movement is secretly proud of its elitist status too. Oh they do the 'corn pone' but we know all about that kind of corn bread. Sarah Palin was their keynote speaker at the end of the conference.

Interesting that the Environmental Movement has racial segregation in common with the Tea Party Movement. Yet they both give empty lip service to 'wanting' minority participation. Welcome to far left and far right racial hypocrisy. Do you have to drink the Kool-Aid to participate? Of course you do. We are wary of both of these movements because they have zero interest in Black communities. In fact, they do not even want to acknowledge the existence of these neighborhoods. Except in some sort of abstract way, as in they don't go there but surely some sort of 'program' can address the needs of 'those people.' We prefer President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush to these exclusive movements. At least those presidents let us in the door in high-level positions. And acknowledge our existence. Even the GOP recruited Micheal Steele. So don't go thinking you are 'all that' Tea Party Movement. Neither you nor your step sister the Environmental Movement are 'all that' to us.

The Mickey Leland Environmental Internship Program

Norris McDonald & Mickey Leland, 1982
The Mickey Leland Environmental Internship Program provides summer internship opportunities for minorities, women, and economically disadvantaged students pursuing environmental, engineering, science-related, and public administration careers at colleges and universities across the United States. The program was established in 1992 by the Texas Water Commission (a predecessor agency to the TCEQ) in partnership with the Texas Water Development Board, the Texas General Land Office, the Texas Chemical Council, the Texas Council of the American Electronics Association and numerous private corporation.

The purpose of the program is to expose undergraduate and graduate students to environmental issues and provide them with opportunities to gain professional experience.
The program honors the late U.S. Congressman Mickey Leland's effective efforts to promote a clean and healthy environment. Congressman Leland was killed in a plane crash on August 7, 1989, en route to Ethiopia on a mission as Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Hunger. Leland's environmental commitment is well documented. He was most noted for his contributions as a member of the Subcommittee on Health and Environment. He emphasized and demonstrated the importance of heightened awareness and involvement of minority participation in the protection of public health and environmental issues and consistently addressed public health issues related to the minority community.

Students interested in participating in the Mickey Leland program must have completed at least 60 undergraduate semester hours at the end of the most immediate past Fall semester or be a current graduate student enrollee. Candidates must be enrolled full time during the current Spring semester and have a minimum academic grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale at the time of application.

The official deadline for submitting the application and supporting documents will be April 1, 2010. Interested intern candidates should submit an application form.

AAEA President McDonald, pictured above with Mickey Leland in 1982, organized the first Congressional Black Caucus Energy Braintrust in cooperation with the congressman's office. (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality)