Author Archives: Marcelo Norsworthy

Collaboration on Environmental Justice Issues Leads to Stronger, More Inclusive Action

This commentary originally appeared on EDF's Voices Blog

This post was co-authored by Lucía Hennelly, with contributions from Adrian Shelley, Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston.

Source: Mataparda/flickr

Source: Mataparda/flickr

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Presidential Executive Order calling for Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, which prompts us to ask: What would the environmental movement in the United States look like if there were genuine cross-pollination, collaboration, and feedback between large, national-scale organizations and locally-based, environmental justice organizations?

Last week, we at EDF had a chance to experience a small glimpse of what this would be like when we delivered comments at EPA’s public hearing on new carbon pollution limits for new power plants alongside other Latino representatives and environmental activists. Among these activists was Adrian Shelley, Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston.

Air Alliance Houston (AAH) is the region’s leading air quality and public health non-profit, working in the most diverse city in the United States. With a population that is more than one-third Latino, Houston is a majority-minority city seated in Harris County, the fastest-growing county in the country. It’s also ground zero for the environmental justice movement. The distribution of health risks is unequal, as air pollutants that pose a definite risk to human health are found in greater numbers in several East Houston neighborhoods adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Climate Change, Environmental Protection Agency, GHGs | Tagged , | Comments closed

Why Do Latinos Support Action on Climate Change?

Source: Mom's Clean Air Force

Your abuela or your friend’s abuela may not mention “carbon pollution” or “greenhouse gas emissions” much, but don’t let that fool you into thinking Hispanics are not aware of or unconcerned with what is happening to our planet. In fact, polling confirms that Latinos overwhelmingly support action to curb climate change. A recent poll for the Natural Resources Defense Council by Latino Decisions shows that 80 percent of Latino voters somewhat-to-strongly favor Presidential action to fight carbon pollution.

Why? Family values.

The reasons are similar to those held by many interested in protecting the planet for future generations. The poll proves that Latinos are concerned about air quality, health effects of a worsening environment and teaching a cultural legacy of environmental stewardship and conservation. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Clean Car Standards, Climate Change, Environment, GHGs, Renewable Energy | Tagged , | Comments closed

Clean Air and Sustainability Are Important Topics for Transportation Researchers

(Source: Texas Public Radio)

Source: Texas Public Radio

Air pollution and sustainability may not have been hot topics for transportation professionals in the past, but they were widely discussed during the 93rd Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a conference that brings together transportation professionals from around the world. And as we have highlighted in the past, air emissions from the transportation sector are of particular concern in Texas, and many at the conference took note of the state’s progress.

For instance, one panel highlighted efforts to reduce costly cargo truck delays at various Texas-Mexico border crossings. These truck delays occur due to a myriad of reasons, including rush-hour transit times and customs issues, but a recently launched initiative known as the Border Crossing Information System, or BCIS, is aiming to shorten these delays through accurate monitoring and reporting of truck queues and, in turn, reduce harmful air emissions. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Goods Movement, Houston, Ports, Transportation | Tagged | Comments closed

“Think Local, Act Global” is a Win-Win for Texas

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí

Source: AmCham Colombia

Source: AmCham Colombia

Texas is a big player in international trade and leads the country in exports, sending over $260 billion worth of goods to overseas markets in 2012. While robust trade can bring many positives, it can also present challenges for local air pollution. As we have highlighted before, poor air quality is a growing concern as scientists learn more about the connection between air pollution and diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis and cancer.

What does that mean for a state trying to reduce the impact of freight transportation on urban air quality? As international trade growth continues to strengthen the Texas economy, EDF recognizes that diverse partnerships are pivotal to reducing air pollution here at home.

This week, we are pleased to share the latest of our outreach efforts targeting international freight shippers: our article was published in the AmCham-Colombia Spanish-language magazine Business Mail, in a special issue dedicated to corporate social responsibility. This trade publication reaches hundreds of leading companies engaged in international trade and will enable us to introduce EDF’s principles of green freight transportation to a new audience.

The Business Mail article considers the journey of Colombian coffee as it travels from the highlands of Colombia to stores in North America, transferring to various modes of transportation along the way. For each step of the journey, we highlight an approach that can improve efficiency and sustainability such as sharing container space or choosing fuel-efficient cargo ships. The bottom line of the story is that decisions about trucks, ships and trains made globally can directly impact the quality of air that we breathe in Texas.  Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, En Español, Ports, Transportation | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

EPA Is Listening: Share Your Climate Change Story

BiLK_Thorn/flickr

The following post regarding U.S. EPA’s listening sessions on carbon pollution standards for existing power plants originally appeared on EDF’s Voices blog. There will be a listening session in Dallas on Thursday, November 7 at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. More information, including time, address, how to sign up or submit comments via email, and information about sessions around the country can be found here.

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

Imagine if we didn’t have seatbelt or car safety standards in place to reduce the dangers of car crashes, the leading cause of unintentional death to children. Or what if society made no effort to curb tobacco use, the single most preventable cause of disease?

Well, we didn’t always have these important standards and guidelines even though today they are well accepted. It took the work of many advocates to bring them about.

Our country currently has the chance to address another hazard. We can help slow climate change by placing common sense limits on carbon pollution from power plants – the single largest source of climate pollution in the United States. Read More »

Posted in Clean Air Act, Climate Change, Dallas Fort-Worth, En Español, Environmental Protection Agency | Comments closed

Clean Truck Initiatives Hit The Road In Texas And Make A Personal Impact

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

Courtesy of Juan Manuel Salazar

The following story about the clean truck program in Houston appears in the Fall 2013 issue of EDF’s Solutions newsletter. As we have highlighted before, ports are hotspots for air pollution and the best way to mitigate emissions from ships, trucks and other transportation equipment is to engage key stakeholders and find common sense solutions that provide access to cleaner, more efficient technologies. Below is a success story from Houston: Since the H-GAC Drayage Loan Program began in 2010, it has replaced almost 200 of the oldest, most polluting trucks with newer, cleaner ones. 

When Juan Manuel Salazar was hauling industrial materials all over Houston in his 1989 International truck, his two daughters worried. “They were concerned about me driving all day, then working half the night to fix the truck,” Salazar says. So it was no surprise that, as an owner-operator, Salazar jumped to qualify for a combined grant and low-interest loan program tailored by EDF and its partners such as the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC). Salazar invested in a cleaner 2012 Kenworth truck that uses less gas and goes farther without problems. “My daughters convinced me,” he says.

A few years before, an emissions inventory found that one-third of the toxic air pollution at the Port of Houston was spewed out by its 3,000-truck drayage fleet. The result was the loan program. Since its creation, almost 200 trucks in Houston have been updated. Read More »

Posted in Clean Car Standards, Drayage, En Español, Goods Movement, Houston, SmartWay, Transportation | Comments closed

Global Freight, Local Impact: Cleaner Air In Texas Through Partnerships Abroad

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

Improving Texas air quality requires a broad coalition. How broad? Well, we know that much of the commerce that is transported through the state either has a foreign origin or destination. Although the delivery takes place in our backyard, many of the crucial decisions that affect that route are made elsewhere. That’s why EDF participated in the 5th Annual Forum on Supply Chain Sustainability in Buenos Aires, Argentina last week.

As the keynote speaker, I provided an overview of EDF’s vision for freight and supply chain sustainability, shared some of our clean air success stories from Houston and presented our “Five Principles for Greener Freight.”  I also met with key stakeholders in the international trade and transportation sector, including the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology (ITBA), which is in the midst of developing a study center geared toward sustainable freight strategies. The forum was a tremendous learning opportunity that will enable EDF to strengthen its advocacy at home in Texas by bringing together new partners and applying key lessons from our neighbors.

Many of the challenges Houston and other port cities face in the United States are similar to those in Argentina, such as older, polluting trucks dominating short distance service, lack of sufficient data to make informed sustainability decisions and difficulty in making long-term investments for cleaner, more efficient technology upgrades. Read More »

Posted in En Español, Goods Movement, Houston, Ports, Transportation | Tagged | Comments closed

Texas Freight Experts Present Supply Chain Ideas To South America

More and more companies are taking an interest in supply chain sustainability and realizing that environmental responsibility is important for business success in the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, Latin America is a key trading partner for Texas and the fastest growing trade region for the United States. It goes without saying that as trade in the Americas expands, companies, governments and organizations throughout the region should increase cooperation on freight sustainability.

Given the growing demand for green logistics, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is pleased to speak at the 5th Forum on Sustainability and Supply Chain to be held next week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This distinctive event plays an important role in Latin America by bringing together practitioners, experts, advocates and business leaders to advance supply chain sustainability.

The forum is hosted by Foro Logística and WebPicking.com, a group that specializes in supply chain logistics in Latin America, and will take place at the Technological Institute of Buenos Aires (ITBA). We look forward to sharing our experience promoting green freight with regional partners and learning about successful strategies that can be implemented in Texas.

Posted in Environment, Goods Movement, Ports, Transportation | Comments closed

Transportation Research Board Leads The Way In New Research To Inform Freight and Marine Decision Making

Recent years have seen significant changes in the global freight and supply chain system. An expanded Panama Canal, significant population growth in the South and Southeast, and new infrastructure and system resiliency demands pose a challenge to our aging freight transportation system. It is crucial for researchers, policy makers and practitioners to work together and prioritize research to overcome these new challenges. Fortunately, the National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board (TRB) is working with stakeholders, including EDF, to advance critical research efforts that will help modernize the global transportation system.

Earlier this month, TRB reviewed ongoing research for marine and freight transportation. In doing so, TRB also established priorities for future studies, with an overarching goal to “promote innovation and progress in transportation.” EDF will partner with TRB to champion innovative research and facilitate a transition to cleaner and more efficient marine and freight transportation choices going forward.

Texas faces many pressing transportation issues of its own. Record traffic growth, rapid expansion at the Port of Houston, booming population growth across the state, and a flurry of oil and gas drilling activity all pose unique infrastructure and air quality challenges to the Lone Star State.

A key transportation challenge faced by Texas is congestion at its U.S.-Mexico border crossings. Emissions from idling trucks at crowded border crossings have brought air pollution concerns in border cities such as El Paso and Laredo.  The Texas Department of Transportation is collaborating with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to develop a tool to help streamline border crossings. The Border Crossing Information System provides drivers, carriers and other stakeholders with real-time and historical information about border crossing wait-times and delays. The data make it easy for truck drivers to understand congestion patterns, thereby reducing vehicle idling and harmful air emissions. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Goods Movement, Houston, Ports, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Latinos In Texas Especially Vulnerable To Impacts Of Climate Change

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí

Source: Texas Vox

This week, President Obama shared his vision for how the U.S. can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the effects of global warming.  This is the great challenge of our time and our moral responsibility compels us to take action now.  It is time to implement practical and sensible solutions to ensure that we leave a healthy planet for our kids and grandkids.

Climate change knows no boundaries; whether you live in an urban or rural area, close to the ocean or the mountains or somewhere in between, you are impacted by climate change.

The increased likelihood of extreme weather events may result in stronger, more intense hurricanes and the development of long-lasting droughts; both of which can increase food costs and decrease our government’s resources in the long term.

Public health is another concern, particularly for Hispanics, which account for 40% of Texas’ population.  Respiratory diseases, such as asthma, can be aggravated by changes in the weather. According to the National Institute of Health, Hispanics have an elevated rate of hospital admissions and emergency room visits due to these diseases.  Simply put, global warming puts our planet’s and family’s health at risk.

In Texas, we’ve seen our fair share of extreme weather and many of our industries and employment sources are being affected.  The ongoing drought that began three years ago continues to constrict water supplies around the state and is hindering the agricultural, recreational and energy sectors. The water crisis has reached critical limits in the Rio Grande Valley, where Hispanics account for 90% of the population. In some areas, economic losses could total $395 million.   Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Climate Change, Drought, En Español, Extreme Weather, Houston | Tagged | Comments closed
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