TXU threatens suit over Perry float Environmental group calls demand to remove energy firm's logo 'meaningless' 08:56 AM CDT on Tuesday, October 24, 2006
By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News
Electricity giant TXU Corp. is threatening to sue an environmental group for trademark infringement over an anti-Rick Perry float the group is towing around the state.
LISA LeVRIER / DMN Midlothian-based Downwinders at Risk's float criticizes TXU Corp. and Gov. Rick Perry for plans to build new coal-fired power plants. TXU says the float, an 8-foot Styrofoam head of the governor sucking fumes from a smokestack, violates its trademark because it features the company's blue-and-white starburst logo.
In a certified letter, David Poole, TXU's executive vice president and general counsel, asked Midlothian-based Downwinders at Risk to stop using the logo or the company "will have no choice but to protect its trademark from infringement and pursue all available legal remedies."
"We're very hopeful they will simply stop using our logo," TXU spokeswoman Kim Morgan said Monday, adding that the group has until today to confirm, in writing, that it will comply.
The environmental group says its use of the logo is protected political satire under copyright and free speech laws.
"They will receive something in writing telling them that their demand is silly. Mr. Poole is a small man ... he should be ashamed of himself," says Paul Levy, of Public Citizen, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy organization aiding Downwinders at Risk.
"It's hard to imagine they'd file a lawsuit. And if they do, it'll be thrown out and we'll be awarded damages. It's that frivolous."
Downwinders at Risk leader Jim Schermbeck said the letter from Mr. Poole "is meaningless."
"We're going to continue on as is," Mr. Schermbeck said. His group plans to tow the smokestack float atop a hay trailer this month to events in Austin, Waco and the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
Downwinders at Risk accuses Dallas-based TXU of environmental indifference in trying to build new coal-fired power plants, and it likewise pans Mr. Perry for what the group says are energy policies overly friendly to the company.
Mr. Perry, a Republican, is seeking a third term in a field that includes Democrat Chris Bell, independents Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn, and Libertarian James Werner.
TXU officials contend they want to improve Texas' air quality while reducing energy prices and meet the state's power demands.
Mr. Poole told the group that TXU does not "in any way object to your organization engaging in the debate regarding ideas on energy and environmental issues."
Panel asks state to act on cement and power plants, diesel vehicles 12:00 AM CDT on Saturday, October 21, 2006
By RANDY LEE LOFTIS / The Dallas Morning News Clean-air plans for urban North Texas moved forward Friday when local planners asked the state for a raft of cuts in pollution, including cement kiln and power plant emissions and the black smoke from big diesel trucks and trains.
The North Texas Clean Air Steering Committee, a group of local government and business officials, environmental activists and others, adopted resolutions that seek action by the Legislature, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or the Texas Department of Transportation to address the region's smog problem.
Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher, the panel's co-chair, said the requests mark a major turning point in regional clean-air efforts.
"This is the most comprehensive step forward I've seen us being able to cooperate on," Ms. Keliher said.
The resolutions deal with diesel emissions, cement and power plants, and other pollution sources.
The panel called on the Legislature to provide full state funding of programs that help low-income motorists repair or replace old, high-polluting vehicles and help businesses upgrade to new, cleaner-burning diesel equipment. Other resolutions seek full state funding for programs to clean up diesel school buses and locomotives.
The committee also wants the state to start including diesel trucks and cars in annual emissions inspections. In addition, it asked the state Transportation Department to expand the number of highway lanes where big trucks are banned, and it asked the Legislature to speed Texas' compliance with a new federal standard for diesel fuel.
Another resolution calls on the Legislature to adopt California's low-emitting vehicle II (LEV II) standard for cars and light trucks sold in Texas, and to exempt cars meeting the California standard from state sales tax.
The group asked the environmental commission to require all Ellis County cement kilns to install a pollution control system called selective noncatalytic reduction, or SNCR, to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.
Another resolution calls for a test of other pollution systems – selective catalytic reduction, or SCR, and low-temperature oxidation, sold under the trade name LoTOx – which a state study concluded could reduce emissions further. Environmentalists want the plants to install those systems.
The committee also "strongly encouraged" North Texas local governments to favor cement companies with the lowest nitrogen oxide levels when they buy cement for public projects. A cement industry lawyer, however, branded such purchase preferences a violation of low-bid rules.
Another resolution calls on the state to put power plants across East Texas under the same strict emission limits that govern plants in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metropolitan areas. The committee also wants emission controls on stationary combustion engines in East Texas, which operate at many pipeline pumping stations, and statewide emissions standards for portable engines.
Environmental group takes Perry protest on the road By JONATHAN BLUNDELL Daily Light staff writer Wednesday, November 1, 2006 11:40 AM CST
It’s been said that politicians are great at blowing smoke, and a new 12-feet by 16-feet caricature of Gov. Rick Perry hopes to show just that across the state during the next month.
What has been described as a "rolling editorial cartoon" of Perry, depicts him kissing a large industrial smoke stack as smoke billows out from a smaller industrial plant.
The float, built by Midlothian’s Downwinders At Risk, made an appearance in downtown Waxahachie on Monday as part of a seven-day trip through Central Texas and on to New Braunfels.
"We wanted to bring attention to Perry’s inaction," Downwinders board member Jim Schermbeck said. "We've been working on raising awareness of the pollution from the cement kilns and coal plants around the state. The governor’s own environmental agency produced a report saying the plants can economically cut their emissions by 80 to 90 percent. Yet Perry refuses to require the filters necessary."
According to Schermbeck, the latest draft in the clean air plan for the North Texas area only requires a 40 percent reduction in air pollution from the area’s cement kilns.
"We're not making requirements of industrial polluters," Schermbeck said. "But at the same time we’re expecting personal vehicles to meet higher standards. These guys have been polluting the air for over 16 years without a catalytic converter installed. The new technology is not included in any of the state’s current clean air plans."
Schermbeck said Downwinders At Risk is not hoping to close the cement kilns down, but as neighbors of the plants, the group wants Perry to require new pollution controls to be installed in each kiln.
"TXI operates a very good, new kiln in Midlothian," Schermbeck said. "But there's a real disparity between the older kilns in the area and the newer ones. We want the older ones brought up to the new standards."
Despite the timing, less than a week from Election Day, Schermbeck said the tour across the state was not planned to coincide with the election.
“The new clean air plan is being assembled now and will likely be voted on in December,” Schermbeck said. “It’s just been a coincidence that the election is taking place now and we’ve been lucky enough to be able to follow Perry on some of his campaign stops around the area. We’re both anti-smog and against Perry’s fondness for the oldest smoking kilns in Dallas which have no more pollution control than the day they were first built.”
The North Texas Clean Air Steering Committee, which Ellis County Judge Chad Adams is a part of, voted to approve pilot testing of the new technology but, according to Schermbeck, Perry refuses to enforce implementation of the plan.
“The people want the technology but the state’s not doing anything about it,” Schermbeck said. “We hope that by raising awareness people will see what’s going on and write their state representatives, senators and Perry. Local officials, including Republicans, back the new controls. The regional EPA favors them. Citizens want them. Only Rick Perry and the industry are fighting the idea.”
Schermbeck acknowledged he had not contacted the governor’s office directly and had received no comment on the float from the governor.
“The only people we’ve talked to are Perry’s security folks at different events," Schermbeck said. “We haven’t heard anything from Perry or his office and he has a long standing practice of protecting the kilns in Ellis County. So we decided to take a more humorous approach in raising awareness. We can’t afford television ads or ads in the big daily papers, so we’re rolling our message all over the state."
For more information on the group, visit downwindersatrisk.org.
Photo: Up in smoke Bryan College Station Eagle - TX, United States
Paul Rolke (left) and Jim Schermbeck stand by a Texas-sized caricature of Gov. Rick Perry kissing a smokestack outside the Memorial Student Center on the Texas A&M University campus Tuesday evening. They were in town promoting what they call "The Rick Perry Smoke Stack Love World Tour," a demonstration against what they call the governor's support for industrial polluters in Texas.