Three Ways Texas’ Latino Communities can Fight Climate Change and Protect Health

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

Daily Ozone Air Quality Index in Texas for August 28, 2015 via AIRNow. Orange indicates that air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Daily Ozone Air Quality Index in Texas for August 28, 2015 via AIRNow. Orange indicates that air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Growing up in the heat of South Texas, praying for rain was a daily ritual. Droughts are common there, and climate change is making them more intense and thus more devastating. Yet Texans are surrounded by inaccurate political messages that cast doubt on evidence that humans are causing climate change. This kind of rhetoric is physically and economically harmful, especially to the 40 percent of Texans who are Hispanic or Latino, because these populations are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has partnered with League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to raise awareness and action on environmental issues that impact our health. LULAC is the largest and oldest nationwide Hispanic civil rights organization in the U.S.  Recently, I had the honor of speaking with the Greater Houston LULAC Council at their monthly breakfast about how climate change impacts Latinos in Texas. Juan Parras, Founder and Director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), joined me at the event and drove the point home by discussing how climate change and industrial pollution is affecting Latinos in Houston. Together, we sought to inform our audience of the role they can play to stop damaging rhetoric and get involved to support climate change solutions and public health protections. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Clean Power Plan, Methane, Natural gas, Ozone| Tagged | Leave a comment

The Important Role of Voluntary Efforts and Partnerships in Port Sustainability – a New Orleans Perspective

Image credit: Tracie Morris Schaefer, courtesy of the Port of New Orleans

Image credit: Tracie Morris Schaefer, courtesy of the Port of New Orleans

By Amelia Pellegrin, Port of New Orleans Environmental Services Manager

The Port of New Orleans is working to shift the discussion from ports as sources of pollution, to ports as generators of solutions that engage not just the maritime industry and freight stakeholders, but the communities we border and the workers that make their living at the Port.

Most recently, our Port was recognized in the Green Marine certification program for making the commitment to improve environmental performance. Our efforts to date include creating an environmental management program that has made major strides in just two years, in large part due to working with partners to search for solutions. From launching the first public fleet of electric vehicles in the state to engaging our stakeholders in strategies for trash free waters, we are moving quickly to capture momentum from across Greater New Orleans and the global shipping industry for much-needed environmental progress. Read More »

Posted in Environment, Ports| Tagged , | Leave a comment

Natural Gas-Fueled Buses and Trucks: Will the Climate really Benefit?

Kenworth truckAs readers of this blog will know, the freight transportation industry in Texas— a freight hub – has a significant impact on the state’s economy and environment. Recent market conditions and environmental concerns have ignited talk of expanding the use of natural gas trucks instead of diesel. But what would be the true climate benefit – or cost?

This post from our colleague Jonathan Camuzeaux, a senior economic analyst for EDF’s Office of Economic Policy and Analysis, explores this question from a national perspective, but we wanted to share this post with Texas Clean Air Matters because of its relevance to our state. We have the second-largest state-highway system in the U.S., as well as the Port of Houston Authority, which is the second busiest port in the nation when it comes to overall tonnage. Considering the switch to natural gas could have a big effect on the climate impact of the state’s truck fleets.

— The EDF Texas Clean Air Matters Team Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Natural gas| Tagged , , | 1 Response

Real Energy and Cost Savings. Right Now. Here, in Texas.

2015 Climate Corps fellow Phoebe Romero and her supervisor sitting near a solar-powered phone charging station on the Huston-Tillotson campus.

2015 Climate Corps fellow Phoebe Romero and her supervisor sitting near a solar-powered phone charging station on the Huston-Tillotson campus.

We are nearing the end of another successful season of EDF Climate Corps, the 8-year-old program run by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) that “embeds” grad students inside companies to find ways to save energy and money and lower carbon emissions.

Over the course of its history, EDF Climate Corps has developed into something of powerhouse from both sides of the energy sector: enterprising students (called “fellows”) discover a passion for sustainability through the act of finding efficiencies in the energy systems of their host organizations, and the hosts benefit from these energy savings while jumpstarting or contributing to their sustainability goals.

This year, 12 Texas companies and public sector entities hosted fellows, and this got us to thinking, what kind of evolution and impact has the Climate Corps program had in Texas over the years? We decided it was worth a closer look and turns out, fellows have been saving Texas schools, businesses, and other organizations a lot of energy – and a lot of money.

Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Energy-Water Nexus| Tagged | Leave a comment

Texas Grid Survives Heat, but Could Use More Energy Efficiency and Demand Response

By: John Hall, Texas State Director, Clean Energy, and Sarah Ryan, Clean Energy Consultant

hot bucket of water morgue free fileThis month Texans have been at the mercy of some extreme, shoe-melting heat. Yet, despite the heat wave and resulting high demand in electricity, the state’s main grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), has barely broken a sweat. Demand even passed the previous record-high mark twice in one afternoon, but ERCOT has not called for a single system emergency.

How is ERCOT able to handle this massive stress on the grid, even as Texas’ population continues to rise at an impressive rate? Although some new generation has come online to meet increased electricity needs in the state, two key resources are working “behind the grid” to lower demand. Energy efficiency and demand response, a way to incentivize people to conserve energy when the electric grid is stressed, are both essential tools in preventing blackouts during the hottest months of the year, while maintaining Texas’ commitment to a clean energy future.

The good news is, Texas has significant potential to grow these resources, and two utilities are already showing how the state can better harness both energy efficiency and demand response. Read More »

Posted in Clean Power Plan, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency| Leave a comment

Hartnett-White and Pals Twist Science for Sake of Fossil Fuel Interests

power-plant-pixabayEarlier this year, I wrote about how Kathleen Hartnett-White, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, was confused about the basic science related to carbon dioxide (CO2) and just how much of it is good for us. She mistakenly asserted the more CO2 the better, while nearly all climate scientists agree high CO2 emissions are wreaking havoc on our planet. Time and again science indicates we are looking at irreversible, catastrophic effects if we don’t do something about it.

Apparently Hartnett-White hasn’t gone back to class – she’s at it again and she’s brought her friends. We recently saw the launch of the CO2 Coalition, a new group aiming to paint CO2 as a nutrient rather than a pollutant, of which she is a member. The real purpose of the coalition is to debunk Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, using “science based facts” (as opposed to emotion-based?).

Similar to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Hartnett-White’s other fossil fuel-funded alliance, the CO2 Coalition is just another front-group pretending to use science in order to protect their corporate interests. Read More »

Posted in Clean Power Plan, Climate Change, Coal, TPPF| Leave a comment
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