Author Archives: EDF Staff

Air Alliance Houston Delivers 2014 “State of the Air”

This post was written by Adrian Shelley, Air Alliance Houston Executive Director.

State of the Air keynote speaker Dr. Bob Bullard on environmental justice and air pollution.

State of the Air keynote speaker Dr. Bob Bullard on environmental justice and air pollution.

Earlier this month, Air Alliance Houston held its annual “State of the Air” luncheon. This event is an opportunity for our friends, allies, and supporters—including EDF—to learn about our work and for other groups to highlight how they are also working to improve Houston air quality.

The first guest speaker at this year’s State of the Air was Better Houston’s Peter Brown, known in some circles as Pedestrian Pete. Mr. Brown serves on a committee developing Houston’s first ever General Plan. Although to many “Houston planning” is  an oxymoron, the General Plan provides an opportunity for Houston to intelligently manage the City’s explosive growth, which will see an additional one million people move to Houston in the next twenty years. Air Alliance Houston is participating in the planning process, encouraging the city to adopt strategies that promote increased use of mass transit, walkability, and a reduction in the impact of diesel trucks on residential areas. (If you live in Houston, you too can provide input by clicking here.)

The real highlight of the event came with a presentation by our keynote speaker Dr. Robert Bullard, the Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University. Dr. Bullard—also the newest board member of Air Alliance Houston—delivered a powerful presentation titled “Environmental Justice Challenges in the 21st Century: The Right to Breathe vs the Right to Pollute.” Read More »

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In Memory of Hillary Corgey

By: Marcelo Norsworthy and the EDF Family

Kaiba White of Public Citizen contributed to this post.

HillaryHillary Corgey, a strong clean air advocate with our friends at Public Citizen, worked hard to become the person she wanted to be. She was smart, wanted to make a difference, and set out to make herself a policy expert. Hillary passed away earlier this month at the tender age of 27. She will be sorely missed by her friends, family, and colleagues.

Hillary earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government from the University of Houston in 2010. During college, she worked at the Houston SPCA, volunteered for Armando Walle’s campaign, and then served as an intern in his Houston office. She then went on to earn a Master of Arts degree, also in Political Science and Government, from Texas State University in San Marcos in 2012.

Hillary started as an intern in Public Citizen’s Texas office in the summer of 2012 and quickly proved to be an asset to the team. Her personal experience growing up with asthma and struggling to breathe the polluted Houston air made the work personal to her. She gradually became more confident in her work, speaking publicly and working with coalition partners, in addition to doing research. Research was where she excelled most -she was able to dig up more interesting and useful facts in a shorter time than anyone else in the office. Read More »

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Texas, Start Your Green Freight Journey with EDF

By: Jason Mathers, Senior Manager, Supply Chain Logistics

green freight edfMany leading companies are creating business value today by cutting carbon emissions from freight moves. These companies, such as Walmart, Ikea, Unilever, and Ocean Spray, are following a similar path, one we at EDF are calling the Green Freight Journey, a five-step framework for freight optimization projects.

As an important freight hub, Texas stands to gain tremendously from green freight strategies. Trucks in Texas move roughly 1.2 billion tons of freight every year and nearly 90 percent of all rail containers entering the U.S. from Mexico move via Texas. This high volume of freight activity is expected to rise even higher as Texas officials project that the population in 35 counties, including all of the major metro areas, will grow by more than 50 percent by 2040. Texas’ status as a national freight leader means that the Lone Star State is poised to lead the way toward green freight strategies that will cut costs and reduce emissions. Read More »

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Schooling Demand Response in Texas Academia

By: Corina Solis, graduate of Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

2014-training-yale-cropThe Alamo Colleges began participating in local utility company, CPS Energy’s Demand Response Program in the summer of 2013. This Demand Response Program is one of CPS Energy’s strategies to achieve its 2020 goal of saving 771 megawatts of energy. The Alamo Colleges participated in the program in order to take advantage of a significant rebate opportunity, which was a maximum of $120,600 in 2013 and is $130,650 in 2014. Rebates are based on the level of participation, and in 2013, the Alamo Colleges earned rebates totaling $103,000. Through a self-funding strategy, all of this money went back to the Alamo Colleges to pay for faculty and staff salaries.

As an extra benefit, while saving all of this money, the Alamo Colleges trim their carbon footprint each time they participate in demand response. Last year, the Alamo Colleges prevented 2,250 lbs. of CO2 from going into the atmosphere from its demand response participation. This year, the Alamo Colleges are contracted to prevent up to five and a half tons of CO2 from escaping into the atmosphere, which would otherwise take 140 tree seedlings ten years to naturally take out of the atmosphere. Read More »

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The First US City to Run Out of Water?

By: Rachel Finan, student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

Rachel Finan

Experts predict that by 2025 Sana’a, Yemen will become the first capital city to run out of water. They predict that by 2030 India will need to double its water-generation capacity or face the same fate, and water supplies in Istanbul, one of the world’s largest cities, is at just 28 percent. Yet before any of those cities run dry (in far off developing countries that most people in the US associate with water scarcity issues), it could be a US city that runs out of water. And it’s not just the usual suspects in the Southwest who face increasingly serious water concerns. Miami, FL is the second-most vulnerable US city in a drought according to a University of Florida Environmental Hydrology Laboratory study. Cities such as Cleveland, OH; Chicago, IL; and New York, NY follow not far behind.

Just last February, California state officials announced that 17 communities and water districts could run out of water in as little as 100 days. In Texas, that number more than doubles. Earlier this year state officials reported 48 communities were within 90 days of water interruptions; as of August 20th, there are 27 communities on that list. One small town in TX reportedly already has run dry.

This begs an obvious question; what are we doing about it? Additionally, what should we be doing about it – not just as a temporary fix, but as a long-term, strategic response? What would you do if water stopped coming out of your tap? Imagine if your town was one of the California or Texas communities with only 90 days of water left. As an EDF Climate Corps fellow, I’ve spent the last several weeks contemplating these questions and identifying opportunities for Texas-based institutions to not only conserve water, but to save money while doing so. I’ve been inspired by many examples throughout the state. Read More »

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Now is the Time to Protect Our Children from the Dangers of Oil Refineries

By: Guest Blogger Trish O’Day, MSN, RN, Texas Physicians for Social Responsibility

(Source: Earth Justice) A child plays in a park next to the Valero oil refinery in Manchester, Texas.

(Source: EarthJustice) A child plays in a park next to the Valero oil refinery in Manchester, Texas.

Texas children growing up near oil refineries are not breathing easy. Living near a refinery can mean exposure to carcinogens, such as benzene, and heavy metals, such as lead. Sadly, there are five oil refineries located in Houston alone, with an additional three in both Port Arthur and Texas City.

Infants (and those still in the womb), babies, and young children are different; they are not little adults. They breathe faster; they live “close-to-the-ground”, and indulge quite often in “hand to mouth” behavior.

A look at lead exposure and children’s health

Lead toxicity in children has decreased in the US since lead was removed from gasoline and paint, but health experts recognize that even low-dose exposure to lead is harmful and irreversible. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention state: “there is simply no safe level of lead exposure for children.”

Children’s brains develop from the first month of conception continuing up to 7 or 8 years old. This long-term development of a child’s central nervous system and brain is sensitive, at all steps along the way, to contact with toxic substances, such as industrial chemicals or toxic substances, whether the exposure is from breathing, ingestion, or dermal (through the skin, while playing in the dirt). Read More »

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