Austin Sierran - Lone Star Chapter_ Sierra Club by liuhongmeiyes


									AUSTIN SIERRAN                            2007/January 2008
                                  DecemberDecember 2007/January 2008                      1

Austin Sierran
Vol. 38, No. 10           Newsletter of the Austin Regional Group

                                                A pond is a wonderful addition to any back-
                                                yard and provides important habitat for birds
                                                and wildlife. Photo by Judith Clarkson.

 General Meeting
 LCRA Hancock Bldg, 3700 L. Austin Blvd.           CONTENTS:
 Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; program at 7 p.m.         3 Chair’s Column
 Tuesday, December 4th                              5 Ecobytes - Bag the Bags
    Program: “The Rock Art of the Lower             6 Energy Reserves May Be Less
       Pecos”                                         than We Think
    Speaker: Ken Law                                8 Outings
                                                   13 It Happened at the ExCom
 Tuesday, January 8th
                                                   14 News in Brief
    Program: Panel discussion on the
                                                   16 Austin Group Meetings
       pitfalls of nuclear power and why
       this not a clean energy solution.
2                                   December 2007/January 2008                              AUSTIN SIERRAN

Sierra Club General Meetings
December 4th
The Rock Art of the Lower Pecos with Ken Law. Law is the Chief Justice of the Third Court of Appeals, which
is located in Austin and serves 24 counties. He admits that he is “obsessed with Lower Pecos Rock Art.” For
the past ten years, he has been involved with the Rock Art Foundation, whose primary area of interest is the
rock art of the Lower Pecos where the Pecos and Devil's Rivers intersect with the Rio Grande. Currently he is
the Foundation’s Past President and a board member, member of the executive committee, chairman of the
speaker's bureau, chairman of special tours, and volunteer guide at Seminole Canyon State Historical Area
near Comstock, Texas. For more information about The Rock Art Foundation, see
January 8th (NOTE DATE)
What's a Nuke Free Texas? Beginning in January, the City of Austin and Austin Energy plan a series of
public meetings to receive citizen input on future electricity generation for the Central Texas area. Austin
Sierra Club presents speakers Tom 'Smitty' Smith from Public Citizen, Karen Hadden from SEED Coalition,
and Cyrus Reed and Donna Hoffman from the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club to discuss the serious
pitfalls of nuclear power and explore why nukes are not a clean energy solution to Global Warming. From
uranium mining contamination of groundwater in South Texas to the waste storage problem for a potent
toxin with a half-life of millions of years, nuclear energy is a huge expense and a distraction from the real
solutions - efficiency and renewable energy sources.
Future Meetings
February 5: Karst Aquifers with Professor Jay Banner of the University of Texas and Director, Environmental
Science Institute (ESI), Banner is a Dave P. Carlton Centennial Fellow in Geology. Dr. Banner's research
interests include the application of field, petrologic, chemical and isotopic methods for studying the chemical
evolution of groundwater and ancient oceans, and the control of changing climate on these processes. Modern
aquifers and ancient limestones and cave deposits provide excellent records of these processes.
March 4: To be determined
AUSTIN SIERRAN                               December 2007/January 2008                                             3

Chair’s Column

SOS Ordinance Erosion                                        money or land to the water quality land so that the
                                                             total land area at the subject and acquired land would
The Austin Regional Group of the Sierra Club became          create an overall impervious cover ratio of 20 percent.
aware of an Amendment to the SOS Ordinance that                 Initially the fee that could be paid to the City in lieu
would allow redevelopment of existing commercial             of actual water quality land was $15,000/acre. This is
buildings a little late in the process. After 18 months in   well below the city’s actual average cost per acre and
a task force, the proposed Redevelopment Amendment           probably much lower than the price of the small par-
emerged with bizarre claims of environmental endorse-        cels these developers would have had to buy on their
ment. Borrowing from the partisan playbook, propo-           own. The developer would also have to install onsite
nents of SOS Ordinance Redevelopment Amendment,              sand/sedimentary detention ponds that fail so fre-
Council Member Lee Leffingwell and Mike Blizzard,            quently. Sites redeveloping more than 20 percent but
claimed the Sierra Club was on board because a mem-          less than to 40 percent impervious cover would not
ber of the Austin Regional Group of the Sierra Club’s        need to purchase offsite land but would have to install
Executive Committee had attended a few early meet-           onsite SOS zero degradation water quality features.
ings. Even though the entire Executive Committee was            Overall it was a compromise to encourage water
raising the alarm over the inappropriate reversal of the     quality improvements under lower standards for re-
SOS ordinance, we continued to hear that the proposed        development of properties that had no water quality
amendment was the product of a consensus that in-            controls and very high impervious cover. Under SOS
cluded us by name, as well as the environmental com-         standards there were few redevelopments underway
munity in general. In fact we were not participants and      and grandfathered commercial properties were decay-
learned of the details when it emerged prior to its pre-     ing but persisting rather than bear the expense of an
sentation to the City of Austin Environmental Board.         SOS compliant redevelopment.
    While the SOS Ordinance calls for any redevelop-            The task force appears to have been overwhelmed
ment of more than 25 percent of a property governed          by real estate redevelopment interests. Upon review-
by SOS to meet SOS maximum impervious coverage               ing the proposal we were alarmed by the bias that un-
of roughly 20 percent and on site SOS zero degrada-          dermined the stated purpose of more immediately
tion water quality requirements, the proposal encour-        cleaning up the runoff from existing commercial build-
ages redevelopment of existing properties that had no        ings with greater than 20 percent impervious cover-
water quality runoff at their existing impervious cov-       age. Somehow the real estate community that authored
erage, to as much as 83 percent coverage and averag-         the proposed amendment forgot common real estate
ing 58 percent. The higher impervious coverage would         agreement language to more faithfully keep the miti-
only be allowed if the redevelopment of properties over
40 percent impervious cover contributed enough                                              Continued on page 12

  2008 Sierra Club Calendars Are Here!
  Please buy from us:
  All proceeds benefit the Austin Sierra Club!
  Available at the general meeting and online:

  For information contact:
  Nelda ( or
  Janis (
4                                    December 2007/January 2008                                 AUSTIN SIERRAN

ECOBYTES: Bag the Bags

Buying groceries, in the check out line. . . I never stop to be amazed by all the plastic bags leaving the store –
going out the door and into our environment. I see them floating by my office parking lot, clinging to the
bushes along the side of the road.
Americans alone discard 100 BILLION plastic bags each yearæas they are a petroleum product, it is the
equivalent to dumping 12 million barrels of oil [1]. Many of those bags end up in our oceansæin fact there are
46,000 pieces of plastic litter/per square mile floating in our oceans [2]. More than 1 million birds and 100,000
marine mammals and sea turtles die every year from eating or getting entangled in plastic [3]. Many more
plastic bags end up as landfill – 9 percent of waste in landfills is plastic, and 4.5 percent is plastic bags and
films [4]. And while it only takes minutes to get from the store to the trash at home, plastic bags can take
between 15 and 1000 years to break down in the environment.
“The most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, the lowly plastic bag is an environmental scourge like none
other, sapping the life out of our oceans and thwarting our attempts to recycle it.” — Slate Magazine ,
August 10, 2007
“All the plastic that has been made is still around in smaller and smaller pieces.”
-- Stephanie Barger, Exec. Dir. Earth Resource Foundation
Can a City Go Plastic Bag Free?
As you read this newsletter, I will be visiting Coles Bay, Tasmania, Australia’s first plastic bag free town --
plastic bag free since 2003. Before the ban, Coles Bay had a problem with plastic bag litter on their beaches and
in the nearby national park. Their migrating whales were also at risk from swallowed plastic bags. Now,
instead of using plastic check-out bags, retailers in the town offer only reusable options such as calico and
paper bags. Locals have adopted the habit of carrying their own reusable bags when shopping. After one year
the town was able to eliminate the use of 350,000 plastic check-out bags.
Since the Coles Bay plastic bag ban, Federal and State Environment Ministers have put in place an agreement
with the Australian Retailers Association to reduce plastic check-out bag use nationally -- by 50 percent by the
end of two years. It was also agreed that single use plastic check-out bags would be phased out within 5 years.
Some of the local store -- Bunnings and IKE -- began charging a 10 cent levy on each plastic checkout bag. As a
result, these stores reduced their plastic bag usage by up to 80-85 percent. Others -- ALDI, Coles, Woolworths,
and Safeway -- have sold millions of reusable bags, appreciably reducing plastic bag usage. Now cities across
our own country -- Seattle, San Francisco, Annapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, and many more -- have
joined the call.
How other towns can reduce plastic bag use:
What about Austin?
On April 19th, 2007, Austin City Council Member Lee Leffingwell sponsored a resolution along with Mayor
Will Wynn and Council Member Mike Martinez to look at ways to reduce the use of plastic bags in Austin.
Since then the Bag the Bags Austin Coalition formed and has developed a plan that includes:
    •   asking Austin City Council to pass an ordinance banning use of plastic bags by large retailers and
        requiring them to make compostable bags made of renewable organic material available to consumers
    •   requiring the City of Austin to institute a plastic reduction plan for City facilities and employees
    •   developing a public education campaign geared to changing our habits and culture to promote the
        use of reusable bags and end our dependence on plastic bags
    •   distributing a large number of free reuseable bags
Read more about the Bag the Bags Austin Coalition’s plans and how you can get involved at:
AUSTIN SIERRAN                                December 2007/January 2008                                           5

            Volunteer of the Month
               MARIA WELLS
                     Great job !

Doing Your Part
    Besides getting involved with the “Bag the Bags” campaign, there are some other easy ways you can have
    an impact:
    1.   Keep some reusable bags -- cloth or previously used plastic bag -- in your car or with your shopping
         list. My partner and I even reuse our produce bags.
    2.   Find other uses for plastic bags you already have, thus giving them additional life and eliminating the
         need to buy more -- for example, use them to replace your garbage bags around the house. I take one
         hiking each week to pick up trail trash.
    3.   Keep a container in your workplace kitchen area to collect unwanted plastic bags, and then run them
         by HEB or Central Market to deposit in their plastic bag recycling barrels.
If you have ideas for reducing or reusing plastic bags to share with us, please write me at or Ellen Prediger, PO Box 18214, Austin, TX 78760.
    1.   Mieszkowski, Katherine. “Plastic Bags are Killing Us”, Aug. 10, 2007.
    2.   United Nations Environment Program

The Austin Sierran (USPS 014-956) is published monthly       Address Changes: Sierra Club, P.O. Box 52968, Boulder,
except for combined June/July and Dec/Jan. issues by         CO 80321 or email
Austin Regional Group, Sierra Club, P.O. Box 1931, Austin,   DO NOT SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO THE EDITOR
Tx 78767. Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas.         Newsletter Policy: All newsletter inquiries should be made
POSTMASTER: send address changes to Austin Sierran,          to Judith Clarkson at 495-9207. Submitted articles should
Sierra Club, P.O. Box 52968, Boulder, CO 80321.              be limited to 350 words. Longer articles may be shortened
Circulation: The Austin Sierran is mailed to club members    at the editor’s discretion.
and subscribers, and distributed through various outlets.    Deadline: all newsletter contributions must be submitted
Annual Sierra Club dues are $39, of which $1.00 is for the   by THE 10th OF THE MONTH either:
Lone Star Sierran, the quarterly chapter newsletter, and     1) by e-mail to or
$7.50 is for the national Sierra magazine.                   2) mail to Judith Clarkson, 2102 New York Ave, Austin,
Advertising: Beverly, 837-4448           TX 78702; (512) 495-9207.
6                                      December 2007/January 2008                              AUSTIN SIERRAN

Energy Reserves May Be Less than We Think

The following information comes from three reports         ing to this analysis, global production has already
produced by The Energy Watch Group, which                  peaked and, apart from Africa, all regions will show
consists of independent scientists and experts who         declining production by 2020 as compared with 2005.
investigate sustainable concepts for global energy             These conclusions differ from those made by the
supply. The group was initiated by the German              International Energy Agency. This is due to a more
Member of Parliment Hans-Josef Fell. Homepage:             pessimistic assessment of the potential of future                                   additions to oil production, especially offshore and
                                                           from deep sea oil where there have been delays in
Oil Supplies                                               the announced development of fields. Another
This analysis is based primarily on historical produc-     reason is the earlier and greater declines projected
tion and discovery data, which allow projections of        for key producing regions, particularly in the Middle
future discoveries and, where peak production has          East.
already been reached, future production patterns. It           The World is at the beginning of a structural
does not rely heavily on reserve data, which are           change in its economic system. Our way of dealing
difficult to assess and verify, and in the past have       with energy issues probably will have to fundamen-
turned out to be unreliable. According to industry         tally change. By denying that such a change is
data, oil reserves are estimated to amount to 1,255        necessary, the IEA sends a false signal to politicians,
giga barrels (Gb), but there are good reasons to           industry and consumers.
believe that the figure is closer to 854 Gb. The
greatest differences are for the reserves in the Middle    Coal Supplies
East: 677 Gb verses 362 Gb.                                The quality of the data on global coal reserves is
    The peak of discoveries, which took place in the       poor. However, over the past two decades coal
1960s, will be followed by a peak of production.           reserves have been significantly downgraded. For
After peak oil, the global availability of oil will        instance, Germany reduced its proven hard coal
decline. During the period 1960 to 1970 the average        reserves by 99 percent and Poland reduced theirs by
size of new discoveries was 527 million barrels (Mb)       50 percent. Only India and Austalia have recently
per New Field Wildcat. This size declined to 20 Mb         upgraded their reserves. Thus, it is fair to say that
for the period 2000 to 2005.                               coal reserves are not nearly as plentiful as had been
    In every oil province the big fields will be           previously thought. World coal reserves have been
developed first, followed by an increasing number of       continuously downgraded by 50 percent since 1980.
smaller fields in an attempt to compensate for the              Eighty five precent of global coal reserves are
decline in production of the former. Eventually it         concentrated in six countries: US, Russia, India,
becomes increasingly difficult to sustain the rate of      China, Australia, South Africa. The US has 30 percent
production. As the growth in the number of fields          of world coal reserves, but is the second largest
increases, costs increase until it is no longer possible   producer after China, which has only half of the
to bring into production sufficient fields. At this        reserves of the US (and slightly less than Russia and
point production stagnates and then eventually             India). China’s reserves are being depleted at the rate
starts to decline.                                         of 1.9 percent per year.
    Outside of OPEC and the former Soviet Union,                The US passed peak production of high quality
only three countries (Angola, Brazil and the Gulf of       coal in 1990 in the Appalachian and Illinois basins.
Mexico) have not reached peak production. Between          Production of subbituminous coal in Wyoming more
1997 and 2006, these countries combined had a total        than compensated for this decline in terms of vol-
oil production of approximately 38 Mb/day. Produc-         ume, but because of its lower energy content, US coal
tion has begun to decline and is expected to continue      production in terms of energy peaked 5 years ago.
this trend at a rate of three percent per year. Accord-         Globally coal production may increase by about
                                                           30 percent over the next 10-15 years, mainly by
         Projected Oil Production (Mb/day)                 Australia, China, the former Soviet Union and South
                2006           2020         2030           Africa. Production will then reach a plateau and
Europe            5.2              2            1          decline thereafter. Again, IEA predicts continued
North America 13.2               9.3          8.2          increases in production, with the only constraining
Middle East      24.3             19         13.8          factor being climate policy. According to this analy-
World              81             58           39          sis, this will not be possible because of limited
World (IEA estimate)            105           116          reserves.
AUSTIN SIERRAN                         December 2007/January 2008                                  7

Uranium Supplies
An analysis of uranium              Lost Pines Conservation Committee Invitation
resources leads to an assess-       A group of Sierrans in Bastrop and Lee County area are forming a
ment that uranium supplies
cannot be guaranteed for            new Sierra Club committee that will focus on the Lost Pines and
more than 30 years. Eleven          adjacent areas. Come join us for our formative, first meeting on
countries have already              Saturday, December 15th at Bastrop City Library, 1100 Church St.
exhausted their reserves. At
present only Canada has             Meet and Greet 5 pm; Meeting/Discussion 6 pm
uranium deposits with an ore        For more info., contact the Chairman of the Lost Pines Con-
grade exceeding one percent.        servation Committee of the Sierra Club’s Austin Regional Group,
Most of the remaining
reserves in other countries         Phil Cook,, 512-321-4964
have ore grades below 0.1
percent, and two-thirds of
reserves are below 0.06 percent.
    The proved reserves that can be extracted for
less than $40/kg will be exhausted in 30 years at
current demand. Possible resources, with extrac-
tion costs of up to $130/kg will be exhausted in 70
years. The current demand of 67 kt/yr is supplied
by new production (42 kt/yr) and the drawdown
of stockpiles that were accumulated before 1980.
These stocks will be depleted within 10 years. It is
unclear whether the necessary increase in supplies
of 50 percent can be met.
    Thus, it is unlikely that expanding nuclear
power capacity is a viable (or effective) option for
combating global warming. Given the long lead
times for the construction of such plants, the
earliest that additional capacity could come on line
would be 2015, and after 2020 severe uranium
supply shortages are likely.
8                                    December 2007/January 2008                               AUSTIN SIERRAN

In order to participate in one of the Sierra Club’s outings, you will need to sign a liability waiver. If you
would like to read a copy prior to the outing please use the link on our website’s outings page, national’s URL
at or call (415) 977-5630.
In the interest of facilitating the logistics of some outings, it is customary that participants make carpooling
arrangements. The Sierra Club does not have insurance for carpooling arrangements and assumes no liability
for them. Carpooling, ride sharing or anything similar is strictly a private arrangement among the partici-
pants. Participants assume the risks associated with this travel.
Unless otherwise indicated, a $2 donation ($3 for nonmembers) is requested on all outings.
Get in shape for upcoming major trips. Meet us at 8:30 am for a 3- to 4-mile hike in the beautiful St. Edwards
park off of Spicewood Springs Road. This hike will begin at 8:45 am. Meet in the parking lot located 2-and-a-
quarter miles north of 360 on Spicewood Springs Road. The lot is on the west side of the road. For more
information, contact Mark at Bring water and hat or sunscreen. Map to meeting place: See for a
description of the hike area.

Meet at the Turkey Creek trail at 10 am for a 2.5 mile hike. To get there, take 2222 west past loop 360 and turn
left at the first traffic light, onto City Park Road. Follow the road south for 4.8 miles, into Emma Long Park,
and turn into the parking lot (right after a sharp turn in the road). Bring water and good walking shoes/boots.
Learn about the various ecosystems of the park while getting in shape. For more further information contact
John at or 891-9643. Also check out the web site for more information: http://

Celebrate the Christmas season by visiting the five historic Spanish missions of San Antonio. Learn about the
place in Texas history of these historic sites and something about the ecology of Texas before it was a state.
The missions have been partially restored and some of them are still in use today, although the oldest ones
were established in 1731. We hike or bike most of the trail (Its a hike and bike path.), and usually conclude the
day by having dinner on the Riverwalk. Meet in front of the Academy store on William Cannon (on the west
side of IH-35) to carpool to San Antonio. Email Chuck for meeting times or for more information at

Meet at the trail head by parking lot of Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park. Some parts of the green belt was
more popular then others this past year and lots of trash was left behind. We'll meet up at 8:30 am and at 8:45
start on our hike in search of trash. Please bring water, gloves and two good trash bags. We will try and
separate items for recycling. For more information, contact Mark at

Caroling in the Cave - "The best 'Darn' Christmas Party!" Join us on a journey down to the Indian Council
Room in the Cavern for caroling in a unique setting with awesome acoustic. Enjoy Christmas music, games,
door prizes, and dinner. Cost is $25/person. We will meet at the REI parking lot on 9901 N Capital of Tx

                                                                WALKING GROUP
                                                                The Sunday morning walking group meets
    The next Outings Committee meeting will be on
                                                                at 8 am at the Austin High School tennis
    Wednesday, January 2nd at 6 pm outside the Central
                                                                courts for one hour of exercise followed by
    Market cafe on North Lamar. Contact Becky at
                                                                breakfast/social hour at a nearby restau- for more info.
                                                                rant. Contact Bonnie for further details at
    Meetings are usually the Wed. before the meeting.           445-6223 or
  AUSTIN SIERRAN                             December 2007/January 2008                                        9

  Hwy at 2 pm and will arrange car pooling from there for the 50 mile drive to the caverns (plan to share gas
  expense). Wear hiking boots for an easy 2 mile walk in the park prior to entering the Cavern. Reserve your
  spot on this trip by December 7th. Contact Cathy Prescott:; 512 567-1783. For
  more info. about Longhorn Cavern State Park, visit their website at

  A good hike in the woods to get away from it all. Learn about the various ecosystems of the park and exam-
  ine the human impact on the area. Meet at 9 am and start hiking at 9:15 am. We will travel upstream through
  the Gus Fruh area and back traveling at a brisk pace. Distance is between 4 and 5 miles. Bring water, snacks,
  good hiking shoes and sunscreen. Afterwards will have brunch at Taco Deli. Directions: Barton Skyway is
  south of Town Lake just off of Mopac between Bee Caves Road and Highway 360. Exit at Barton Skyway and
  head East. At the end of Barton Skyway the road stops at Spyglass. You will see the trail head straight ahead.
  You can park along the roadside of Spyglass Drive For more information, please contact Mark at

  Starting from Central Market, 4001 North Lamar at 7 pm, we'll take a leisurely 3 mile walking tour of the
  funky festival of lights on 37th Street. This is a famous Austin tradition, where creative neighbors strive to
  outdo each other with holiday decor. Join us for food and drink afterwards. Reservations not needed. Contact
  Niles Seldon at or 346-8073.

  Hike distance is 5-6 miles. Learn about the various ecosystems of the park and examine the human impact on
  the area. Bring water, snack, hat, hiking shoes and sunscreen. Meet at 9:15 am at the trailhead. Take 360 to
  Scottish Woods. Go to the end of the street and park. The greenbelt entrance is just west of where Scottish
  Woods ends. Contact Jan Adler, 326-2690,

                                        Volunteers Needed
        Holiday Gift Wrapping
        Come join the fun and help out with Holiday Gift Wrapping fundraiser! Sierra Club will have their
        annual gift wrapping table at REI north store located in Gateway Shopping Center at 360 and
        Mopac next to Whole Foods.
        Saturday, December 8th and 15th. There will be two shifts each day, 10 - 1:30 and 1:30 - 5
        Sunday, December 16th 11 - 2 and 2 - 5:30
        Please contact Lisa Anderson at 524-5866 or to sign up or with any questions.

        Christmas Tree Recycling
        Join other Sierran's at the Christmas Tree Recycling in Zilker Park polo field on Sunday, December
        30th, 10 - 2. If you are interested, contact E Long at by Christmas.

        Trail of Lights
        Join other Sierrans to volunteer at the Trail of Lights on Saturday, December 22nd, 5 - 10:15. We
        need at least four volunteers, though the more the merrier! If you are interested, contact E Long at by Saturday, December 15th.

Our Mission: To explore, enjoy and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the respon-
sible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the
quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
10                                  December 2007/January 2008                               AUSTIN SIERRAN

Start the New Year off right by hiking the entire 10 miles of the Lady Bird Johnson (formerly Town Lake) Trail.
Explore the various environments along the shores of Lady Bird Lake as it winds through the heart of Austin.
Meet at the Austin High parking lot, next to the tennis courts, at noon. This gives you time to sleep late, but
be there by the crack of noon. We'll hike west from under the MoPac bridge, under IH-35 and across Long-
horn Dam, then back on the north side of the lake, back to our starting point. For more further information
contact John at or 891-9643. You can also see
HikeDetails.aspx?HikeID=4 for more information, although it doesn't include the East Austin portion in the
hike, which is a very scenic part.

Start the New Year with a vigorous and healthy hike at LCRA's Mckinney Roughs Environmental Education
Center. Learn about the various ecosystems of the park while getting in shape. Bring lunch, water, hat,
sunscreen and hiking shoes. There is a $3 fee to enter the park. Meet at 9:15 am at the southeast corner of the
parking lot of the Omni Hotel at the southeast corner of IH 35 and Ben White. Contact Jan Adler, 326-2690,
janaprima @

Starting from A la Carrera Mexican restaurant, 11150 Research Blvd (intersection of US 183 and Balcones
Woods, southwest corner) at 12:30 pm, we'll take a 3 mile hike along quiet city streets and the Great Hills
greenbelt. We will experience the effects of integrating trails and open spaces in mature suburban neighbor-
hoods. Join us for lunch afterwards. Reservations not needed. Niles Seldon 346-8073

Hike the 7.5 mile Wolf Mountain trail while the weather is still cool and great for hiking. Learn about the
various ecosystems along the trail and examine the human impact on the area. Meet in the parking lot of the
former Albertson's at the "Y" in Oak Hill, formed by highways 290 and 71, at 10 am for carpooling to the park.
Bring lunch, water, and a park admission fee. Contact John at or 891-9643 if you need
more info.

Please join us for food, drink and live music at Central Market (40th and North Lamar). This is a very infor-
mal get-together open to both members and non-members. Learn about the Sierra Club, how to get involved
in our environmental efforts, and share dinner with fun, environmentally aware diners. Feel free to stop by
anytime between 6:30 and 8:30 pm and hang out with us. We'll have green balloons at the table to help
identify us. We may be inside or outside depending on table availability. Don't forget to check out the upstairs
balcony if you have trouble finding us! This is a great opportunity to meet fellow Sierrans and find out about
activities currently happening in the club. Suggestions for activities you would like to see the Sierra
Club pursue are encouraged. For more information contact Gail (email:, 293-0388).

The Boys Scouts can do it, so can the Sierra Club. Join us for a freezerie campout at Lost Maples with mem-
bers of the Alamo Group. Learn about the various ecosystems of the park and examine the human impact on
the area. Hot chocolate, warm campfires, comfort food, and hiking will be the themes of this trip to one of our
most spectacular state parks. Potluck dinner on Friday night; Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner and
Sunday breakfast will be furnished by the club. Fees: $30 per person. Fee includes camping fees and Satur-
day and Sunday meals. Additional fees: park entrance at $5 per vehicle per day. Contact Steve Funderburg
(210-317-4186) or for more information or to reserve your place on the trip. For more
information on the park, follow the link below.

We'll meet at 9 am at REI (9901 N. Capital of Texas Highway) for a nine-mile hike along the shore Lake
Georgetown. Long pants advised regardless of weather due to high vegetation. Bring water and lunch. For
more information, contact
AUSTIN SIERRAN                             December 2007/January 2008                                          11

 February 3-9
 Must be reasonably fit, willing to have
 fun, and have a spontaneous urge to
 make a snow angel….
 This year’s annual trek to California’s
 powdered slopes will offer both
 downhill and cross country skiing. Oh
 yes, if you want to snowboard, you can
 do that too. Claire Tappaan Lodge located in
 Soda Springs, CA will be our home for a weeks worth of skiing in the Sierra Nevadas. The lodge accom-
 modates 130 people in a bunk bed arrangement. Bring your sleeping bag. A hearty breakfast, sack lunch,
 and hot dinner are served family style daily.
 A large living/recreation room complete with fireplace sets the mood for après ski lounging, storytelling,
 or simply gazing into the glow of the fire while sipping on some hot spiced cider.
 So what are the ski options?? Our cross country skiing will be taking place at Royal Gorge Cross Country
 Ski Resort with 90 trails and over 300 kilometers of groomed track. Royal Gorge is the largest groomed
 Nordic track system in North America. Our other cross country option is Tahoe Donner Cross Country
 with 48 trails and over 113 kilometers of groomed track. For those downhill aficionados there is Sugar
 Bowl and Donner Ski Ranch. Sugar Bowl with its 5 high speed quads that serves 4 different mountains is
 best suited for the more experienced skier. Donner Ski Ranch, one of California’s first ski resorts has a
 variety of terrain for all abilities. I would rate the skiing at Donner as kinder and gentler than Sugar Bowl.
 Shuttle service to the downhill ski areas is available right outside the lodge. Sound like fun so far?? Well
 there is more. We will also be spending 2 nights at the Peter Grubb Hut which is part of the Sierra Club’s
 hut system. A 3 mile trek to this hut promises to reward us with unparalleled solitude, where you can
 snowshoe, ski yet some more, or simply enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
 The $410 price for this trip includes all transportation starting and returning from the Reno airport, 6
 night’s accommodations at the lodge and 3 meals a day. Additional expenses will include your R/T
 Austin/Reno airfare, ski and snowshoe rental, trail passes, lift tickets, ski instruction, souvenirs, a possible
 night out for dinner, and a trip to Reno for your luck at the gambling tables.
 Please plan to arrive at the Reno airport by noon on Sunday. (Plan on making your Saturday February 9th
 return flight back to Austin starting at 1:00 pm.) We will meet inside the airport and start our 50 minute
 trip to the lodge. There will be a stop in Truckee for lunch and any last minute items that you might need
 before arriving at the lodge.
 Then the weeklong fun begins…..
 For more info. regarding this trip please contact Tony Fuentes at
 This trip is open to novices, intermediates, and experts, and limited to 12 participants.

                        Shop Online and Support the Austin Sierra Club!
            Looking for Sierra Club books, posters, backpacks or other cool stuff?
            Click on one of the Sierra Club merchandise and membership ads on the Austin
            website home page ( or merchandise page, and you
            can shop on the National Sierra Club website. The Austin Sierra Club will receive a
            commission when you purchase merchandise or join the Sierra Club online.
12                                    December 2007/January 2008                                 AUSTIN SIERRAN

Chair’s Column                                               runoff controls prior to approval of the amendment.
continued from page 3                                        The alarming rate of failure and inadequacy of exist-
gation land fee of $15,000/acre on par with future price     ing controls are a very serious problem that is now sup-
increases. While local relevant land values have been        posed to be dealt with later.
tracked at 12 percent per year, the proposed amend-              There was almost no movement in how much more
ment had the price of mitigation land moving at 3 per-       traffic could be generated. The redevelopment amend-
cent per year forever. I was impressed with the integ-       ment to SOS will allow up to 2,000 MORE trips per
rity of City of Austin Legal, Real Estate, and Water-        day than the existing use at each of the 199 properties
shed Development staff when I met with them to re-           over the aquifer without any council approval. That’s
write that section. We left the meeting believing that       199 times 2,000 or 398,000 more trips per day over the
12 percent per year with qualified and appropriately         aquifer and Barton Creek Watershed. Obviously some
certified professional adjustment to market every three      of those trips will be combined, but still.
years was truthful and most likely to help fulfill the           City Council would need a super majority to amend
stated objective of encouraging redevelopment sooner         the SOS Ordinance or to allow a variance from the SOS
rather than later. Any less than market rates of change      Ordinance. But what alarmed the environmental com-
would have encouraged delay in redevelopment and             munity was that the redevelopment ordinance ex-
the point of the amendment was to accelerate the in-         empted existing commercial properties from super
evitable redevelopment of the polluting properties.          majority approval on variances from SOS, even those
    Proof of the bias of the task force came after the En-   not contemplated by the redevelopment ordinance. I
vironmental Board and the Planning Commission both           hope I got that wrong. Council Member Leffingwell’s
requested substantial changes that were largely ignored      spokesman Mike Blizzard explained to City Council
AND the land mitigation fee appreciation rate was set        that those who share my concern are either ignorant or
at 7 percent with 3 year market adjustments. It was ex-      dishonest.
actly half way between the ludicrous 3 percent and the           The Statesman was played perfectly. The SOS Rede-
truth, 12 percent.                                           velopment Amendment passed. Austin Sierra Club,
    Although we made some headway on the obviously           Environment Texas, Save Barton Creek Association,
indefensible price adjustment, we made little progress       Save Our Springs Alliance, and the Austin Neighbor-
getting meaningful development phase erosion and             hoods Council all opposed the amendment to the end.
AUSTIN SIERRAN                             December 2007/January 2008                                         13

It Happened at the ExCom                                                    Sierra Club
                                                                         Austin Regional Group
                                                                    P.O. Box 4581, Austin 78765-4581
Minutes of the November 14th Meeting                  
Present: Chair Chris Lehman, Vice-Chair Roy Waley,
Chuck Byrd, Felicia Kongable, Becky Patterson
                                                                            Executive Committee
VOM: Maria Wells for her work with Janice Snow           Chair
and Nelda Bullis setting up "Conversation with a         Chris Lehman        444-4495 
Tramp: An Evening with John Muir.”                       Vice-Chair
The Ex-Com was excited to hear of the proposed           Roy Waley           407-8584
formation of a Conservation Committee in the
                                                         Chuck Byrd          292-6985
Bastrop Area, to be called the Lost Pines Conserva-      Felicia Kongable    478-4945
tion Committee. It will be part of the Austin group,     Becky Patterson     913-5990
but will focus on Bastrop-Lee Counties issues. It will   Scott Swearingen   
be separate from the current Austin Conservation         Donna Tiemann       358-7076
committee, allowing each to focus on specific regions
of our community. It was unanimously voted to
approve the formation of the Sierra Club Lost Pines                          Conservation Contacts
Conservation Committee.                                  Chair
                                                         Donna Tiemann         358-7076
The Austin Sierra Club will join the city committee      Transportation/Air Quality
overseeing the Waller Creek development. Roy will        Dick Kallerman        444-1326  
be at the hearing when Waller Creek stakeholders         Water
meet with Councilman Sheryl Cole.                        Norman Johns          451-4690     
                                                         Water Quality Monitoring
The Austin Sierra Club will support the city's water     Diane Saltus          445-5236
conservation efforts on our website with our new
"Dive into Water Conservation" logo and link to
materials.                                                                    Committee Chairs
The Austin Sierra Club thanks Darryl Slusher for         Merchandise Sales
establishing the City policy of not giving out bottled   Open
water.                                                   General Meeting Programs
                                                         Phoebe Allen         444-1326
Jennifer Walker reported that the Lone Star Chapter      Inner City Outings
has convinced the LCRA and the City to set up a          Victor Davis              
stakeholder group to interact with the four-member       Membership
policy setting group. Nine months from now the           Lee Tartak           694-0009
stakeholder committee members will be named.             Gail Tartak          293-0388
                                                         Fund Raising
We thanked Chris for giving great input to City staff    Janis Snow           569-1270
on the SOS Redevelopment Amendment per acre              Nelda Bullis         506-9164
mitigation fee indexing. We were very disappointed       Outings
that the City would not codify improvements to           Becky Patterson      913-5990
redevelopment erosion controls prior to weakening        Political
the SOS Ordinance as it pertains to commercial           Karin Ascot          443-1135 
redevelopment in the Barton Creek Watershed. Roy
reported that the developers were ecstatic after the                       Administrative Contacts
Council vote.                                            Volunteer Administrator
Roy reported on City issues. He says the City is         Lisa Anderson         524-5866
changing the Comprehensive Master Plan, from the         Treasurer
1979 Austin Tomorrow Plan for development that           Mauri Rex             301-3276
                                                         Newsletter Editor
requires a Council vote. Jeff Jack is keeping up on      Judith Clarkson       495-9207
staff actions and will keep Roy informed.                Advertising
We discussed Austin Sierra Club Holiday party            Beverly Miller        837-4448
arrangements for December 16 at the Barr Mansion.
The Lone Star Chapter party will be December 19 at 6
p.m. at the chapter office.
14                                   December 2007/January 2008                               AUSTIN SIERRAN

News in Brief

Coal Plants Face Uncertain Future                          Global Warming Impacts Greenland
There are more than 150 new coal plants on the             While there is much attention being paid to the
drawing board, but resistance is growing, including        melting of ice in the Arctic and its disasterous
among investors. Two dozen coal plants have been           impacts on the Inuit hunters that live there, the
cancelled since 2006 and Citigroup has downgraded          potential bonanza for Greenland as a whole has not
the stocks of coal companies. Although we have             been recognised. Currently 65 families are making a
plenty of cheap coal, capturing and containing CO2         living as farmers in southern Greenland and, as a
emissions could make coal plants prohibitively             result of an increase in the growing season, people
expensive. Here are a few recent developments:             have begun to plant small gardens. A similar pattern
                                                           was evident in the tenth century when the Vikings
• In south Florida, after a five-day trial, the Florida    first settled. They farmed sheep and grew potatoes,
Public Service Commission unanimously rejected an          supplementing their diet with fishing and hunting.
application by Florida Power and Light to build a          Then, 400 years later, the climate cooled, Viking
huge new coal-fired electric plant in Glades County        settlements disappeared and the Inuit thrived.
adjacent to the Everglades because of concerns over            Other impacts of the warmer climate are less
global warming. Florida is virtually flat, and vulner-     benign. Gold mining is now possible and oil compa-
able to storm surges and rising sea levels.                nies are scouting for fresh supplies. The aluminium
• Governors Charlie Crist of Florida and Arnold            company Alcoa is negotiating to open three smelters
Schwarzenegger of California (both Republicans)            because of plentiful supplies of hydro power. Green-
convened a two-day conference to explore ways to           landers welcome the coming prosperity, which will
attack global warmng. It was attended by representa-       enable them to become self-sufficient - currently half
tives of government, business and environmental            of their budget is met by a subsidy from Denmark.
organisations.                                                 For the rest of the world, Greenland’s melting ice
                                                           spells catastrophe. The IPCC predicted an ice-free
• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada              Arctic by the end of the century, but some scientists
came out against three big coal-fired plants planned       now predict this could occur by 2020. Whereas snow
for his state.                                             and ice reflect the sun’s heat, exposed sea and rock
• Litigation brought by Earthjustice caused the            absorb heat, thereby exacerbating the warming and
construction of the Roundup coal plant in Montana          increasing the rate of melting. Sea level rises will
to stall. The state has declared that the air permit has   inundate the Nile Delta, much of San Francisco and
expired and at least for now the project appears to be     40 percent of Bangladesh, among other places.
moribund.                                                  During the mediaeval Little Ice Age temperatures
                                                           varied by one degree C, now we facing increases of 2-
• In Appalachia the EPA has sued Massey Energy,            6 degrees C (4-11 degrees F). We have no idea
the nation’s fourth largest coal company, for thou-        whether we can survive this kind of temperature
sands of violations of the Clean Water Act incurred in     increase.
its mountaintop removal activities. Fines could            Source: The Guardian Weekly, October 5, 2007.
theoretically run as high as $2.4 billion.
• A proposed coal plant near Shiprock, New                 Global Warming Faster than Expected
Mexico, is splitting the Navajo Nation between those       A British climate expert announced that increases in
who like the potential revenues and those horrified at     atmospheric carbon dioxide has accelarated since
the devastation it will bring to their landed heritage.    2000, from an average annual increase of 0.7 percent
Presidential hopeful Gov. Bill Richardson opposes          in the 1990s to 2.9 percent. The new study says that
the plant because of its contribution to greenhouse        three processes have contributed to this increase:
gases, at a time when he and four other governors          • growth in the World economy;
have signed a compact to reduce such gases.
                                                           • heavy use of coal in China; and
Source: In Brief, Autumn                                   • weakening of natural “sinks” - forests, seas and
2007, newsletter of
                                                               soils that absorb carbon.
Earthjustice (Sierra Club
                                                                Scientists assume that about half of carbon
Legal Defense Fund)
                                                           emissions are reabsorbed into the environment, but
                                                           computer models predict that increased temperatures
                                                           will reduce this effect.
                                                           Source: The Guardian Weekly, November 2, 2007.
AUSTIN SIERRAN                              December 2007/January 2008   15

Alberta’s Dirty Gold Rush
The subsoil of western Alberta is thought to hold
about 174 bn barrels of oil, second only to the oil
reserves of Saudi Arabia. Extracting this oil is an
energy and resource intensive process, which was not
viable until oil hit $40 per barrel. Now, with oil
approaching $100 per barrel, this huge expanse of
forest has attracted the attention of all of the major oil
companies. Concessions have already been granted
for an area a tenth the size of France. Output currently
exceeds one million barrels a day and could increase
fourfold by 2015.
    Once a remote trading post for trappers, Fort
McMurray is now a town of 80,000, with outskirts that
are endless building sites. Although skilled workers
earn high wages, they are far from their families in an
environment that offers little in the way of entertain-
ment. And the environmental consequence are devas-
tating. Downstream cancer rates are skyrocketing as a
result of effluent poured into the Athabasca River. Vast
ponds filled with industrial byproducts are so toxic
that guns are fired regularly to discourage migrating
birds from landing. In addition, it takes about three
barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced. The
combination of mining activity and climate change is
likely to trigger a serious crisis affecting the quantity
and quality of the water supply in Alberta.
    The consequences for the boreal forest are
catatrophic - thousands of acres have been logged and
the acid rain produced as a result of the extraction
process can be detected as far away as Quebec. Large
amounts of energy are required to separate the oil
from the sand and annual carbon dioxide emissions
are expected to exceed 80 m tonnes in 2011, more than
all of the cars in Canada. The oil sands industry is
largely responsible for Canada’s 26 per-cent increase
in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.
Source: The Guardian Weekly, October 19, 2007.

Problems at the Three Gorges Dam
China’s state media announced recently that its
showcase hydroengineering project, the Three Gorges
Dam, could become an environmental catastrophe
unless remedial action is taken. While the dam con-
tributes to flood control and electricity generation,
landslides and pollution are among the hidden
dangers. Upstream water quality is suffering from the
slow rate of river flow and the rising water levels in
the reservoir are eroding river banks. The sudden
collapse of soil into the water has created waves up to
150 feet high. The government has spent $1.6 bn on
efforts to stabilise the transformed geology of the area,
but these efforts appear to be insufficient.
Source: The Guardian Weekly, October 5, 2007.
16                                  December 2007/January 2008                            AUSTIN SIERRAN

 LONE STAR CHAPTER OF THE SIERRA CLUB                                                    PERIODICAL
 P.O. BOX 4581                                                                         POSTAGE PAID AT
 AUSTIN, TX 78765-4581                                                                 AUSTIN, TX 78710

                             DATED MATERIAL - PLEASE DELIVER PROMPTLY

ADDRESS CHANGES: Sierra Club, P.O. Box 52968, Boulder, CO 80321, or

Austin Group Committee Meetings
Executive Committee                                    Bastrop County Audubon Society
  Second Wednesday. Next meeting: December               Meets 3rd Tuesday, 7.30 pm, First National Bank,
  12th, 6.30 pm at LCRA Board conference room,           Hwy 71 at Hasler. Contact: Priscilla, 281-2762.
  3700 Lake Austin Blvd.
                                                       Bastrop Area Riding Club (BARC)
Outings Committee Meeting                                Bike rides Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  Normally, Wednesday before the general meeting.        Contact:
  Next meeting January 2nd, 6 pm, at Central
  Market on North Lamar. For more info., contact       Hill Country Alliance
  Becky at                    Grassroots conservation org. Contact: 560-3135,
Conservation Committee Meeting
  Fourth Tuesday. For details and location, contact    Native Plant Society
  Donna at 358-7076.                                     Meets 3rd Tuesday, 7-9 pm (except Dec.), Wild
Inner City Outings Meeting
  For information and details of future meetings:      Oak Village Commons or 921-5478.                    Building a sustainable neighborhood in Oak Hill.
                                                         Meets 1st and 3rd Saturdays, 4:30. Contact Debbie
Other related area meetings...                           Dyson, 371-7612/
Austin Butterfly Forum
  Meets 4th Monday, 7 pm, Zilker Garden Center.        Sustainable Building Coalition
  912-7059/                     Monthly on 3rd Wednesday, 7 pm, Casa de Luz,
                                                         1701 Toomey Rd.
Austin Paddle Club
  Monthly on the 2nd Thursday, 7 pm, LCRA              Travis Audubon Society
  Colorado Room,                   Meets 3rd Thursday, 7 pm, LCRA Hancock Bldg.
                                                          300-BIRD (2473)/
Austin Metropolitan Trails and Greenways
  For details of meetings, contact Jebb Boyt, 475-     Texas Outdoors Woman Network
  3786, or go to                    Meets 4th Tuesday (exc. Dec.), 6 pm, at LCRA,
                                                          3700 Lake Austin Blvd,
Austin Organic Gardeners
  Meets 2nd Monday (exc Dec.), 7.30, Zilker Botani-       The Capital Area Master Naturalists
  cal Garden.                              Meets last Wednesday, 7 pm, Austin Nature and
                                                             Science Center,
                             For changes in above information:

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