McCarthy and Parras listen to community members
Juan Parras has been leading the effort to bring environmental justice to Manchester for many decades. As founder and director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), Juan has galvanized residents, published important studies, informed the media, and organized action campaigns around reducing air pollution and protecting the environment in communities around the Houston Ship Channel. Last week, Juan’s tireless leadership was on display as U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy visited a Manchester neighborhood forum to speak about how EPA is working to make a real impact in environmental justice communities.
The Manchester community, on the eastern side of Houston, is surrounded by heavy industry including an oil refinery, as well as major freight traffic corridors like East Loop 610. Residents, many of whom are Latino and low income, often report health challenges such as asthma, headaches, dizziness, and even cancer. Many of the challenges are profiled in a recent report titled "Who’s in Danger?” that highlights demographic information of communities in industrial vulnerability zones. Administrator McCarthy saw first-hand the proximity of petrochemical facilities to homes, playgrounds, and community centers. She heard directly from concerned residents about the environmental issues they face daily.
EDFers Marcelo Norsworthy and Chris Wolfe (L) with Rachel Powers, Executive Director of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC).
The Houston environmental community was strengthened and reinvigorated after last week’s Greater Houston Environmental Summit, an event organized by the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC). The summit was designed to allow local environmental leaders to share their take on how Houston is addressing key challenges related to growth, transportation, air quality, and infrastructure. A principle message from the summit was how high-paced growth and demographic changes have been altering the face of Houston. What does Houston’s rapidly-growing, multi-ethnic population, in fact, mean for environmental issues?
Houston, the 6th largest metro region, is expected to see its population jump to more than 7 million people by 2020. This rapid growth means that, while there are more pressures on natural resources like air quality, there may also be a new resolve to make significant emissions reductions. As many of the speakers at the summit highlighted, the time is now to move the needle on a number of environmental challenges facing Houston and its diverse population. Read More
Companies don’t traverse the Green Freight Journey in one day. But there is one day next week where shippers can begin down the path by learning about the five-step framework for freight optimization projects. We first highlighted this webinar opportunity and how Texas is poised to gain from sustainable freight strategies last month, and now is the perfect time for companies to consider how they can take advantage of best practices and proven tools to reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Every company that uses the freight system to move products to market has the opportunity to embark on the Green Freight Journey. Join EDF on January 14 at 11am CST for a webinar that will introduce you to the Green Freight Journey framework, review real-world case examples, and highlight tools EDF is making available to help companies progress on their journey.
Hilary Sinnamon, clean air and transportation consultant, contributed to this post.
A key component of one of the most significant health protection measures adopted in the past several years will take effect in the New Year – and Texas is positioned to reap significant benefits.
Large ocean-going ships, like container vessels, tankers, and cruise ships are often called floating smokestacks because they have historically burned fuel hundreds to thousands of times dirtier than all other mobile sources, including cars, trucks, trains and construction equipment. That’s why the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA), approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2010, requires these vessels to reduce harmful emissions by switching to cleaner fuels when transiting within 200 nautical miles of U.S. and Canadian coastlines. This means healthier air for communities across Texas and the rest of the country, as these measures are estimated to reduce millions of pounds of harmful air pollutants and save tens of thousands of lives. Read More
Refineries cast a long shadow along the Texas Gulf Coast: its emissions of cancer-causing compounds leave overburdened communities facing serious health concerns, even as the industry resists implementing commonsense, protective policies. The shadow, however, need not be so dark for much longer. Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to strengthen long-overdue emissions standards for petroleum refineries, which is a critical step toward securing healthier air quality for millions of Americans.
Refineries are a major source of extremely harmful air pollutants including neurotoxins, hazardous metals, and cancer-causing pollutants. Exposure to these compounds can cause lung disease, skin disorders, headaches, and immune system ailment, as well as increase the risk of cancer. Refineries nationwide reported about 22,000 tons of hazardous air pollution in 2010, and many of the largest polluters are right here in Texas. These numbers come to life when you walk the streets of communities like Galena Park or Port Arthur and meet the families who live and work in the shadow of refineries every day. Read More
Thirteen of the 14 hottest years on record have all occurred since 2000. So when it comes to climate justice, are you going to sit on the sidelines or be part of the solution? If you want to act on climate change, join your fellow Texans at the “Shield the People Climate March” in Austin this Sunday, September 21. EDF will be out in force joining together with faith groups, labor unions, community associations, environmental justice organizations, and a broad coalition of people calling for action to reduce climate change pollution.
The Austin event is a local response to the “People’s Climate March” taking place on the same day in New York City, which is being billed as the largest climate march in history. The backdrop for this historic day of action is a special summit at the United Nations that will bring world leaders together to act on the climate crisis. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon even recently announced that he “will link arms with those marching for climate action.” World leaders, including President Obama, need to hear from the public loud and clear that we can’t afford to wait any longer. Read More