Author Archives: Marcelo Norsworthy

New Guide Helps Ports and Terminals Clean the Air and Save Energy

A new EDF guide shows ways  Ports and Terminals can save energy and clean up the air.

A new EDF guide shows ways ports and terminals can save energy and clean up the air.

The freight transportation industry is growing – and so is interest in adopting environmentally-friendly green freight approaches.

That’s why EDF is proud to release its new Clean Air Guide for Ports & Terminals: Technologies and Strategies to Reduce Emissions and Save Energy. The guide highlights institutional frameworks, technology upgrades, and operational improvements that have been effective in reducing energy use and harmful emissions from the freight industry. Landlord ports, operating ports, and marine terminal operators will all find models of initiatives they can implement at their own facilities. Community and advocacy groups also can identify best practices in the industry and work with their port partners to collaboratively implement some of these strategies at a nearby terminal. Read More »

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Houston Ozone Season Demonstrates Improvements Still Needed

SignboardAirQualityHouston_wikipediaOzone season in Houston runs from March 1 to November 30 each year, meaning we’re nearing the tail end of the season – a good time to take a look at how the region has fared.

To date this year, the Houston region has had 25 days where the ozone concentration in at least one monitor (includes regulatory and non-regulatory monitors) has exceeded the current health-based standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb). This includes a string of five consecutive unhealthy air days in late August. The 75 ppb level is the highest measurement at which EPA currently considers the air to be safe and healthy for all individuals. Assuming no additional exceedances, Houston’s 3-year design value, which is an average of air quality measurements and how the region is measured against the standard, is on track to be 80 ppb for the period of 2013-2015.

Why does this matter? Exposure to ozone is associated with health concerns and most commonly affects the lungs and the respiratory system. Airways can become inflamed and can result in coughing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath, along with many other symptoms. You can reduce your exposure to dangerous concentrations of ozone by limiting your time outdoors during high ozone days and understanding how ozone can affect your health. Read More »

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Houston Fortunate to Have Juan Parras as an Environmental Leader

Ejuan_portrait1-smarlier this month, Juan Parras, founder and director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (Tejas), was recognized as the 2015 recipient of the Robert Bullard Environmental Justice Award by the Sierra Club. Juan has worked for decades in Houston and along the Gulf Coast to improve the health and welfare of communities and is known for his dedication, courage, and optimism. Juan has been committed to improving the lives of those most affected by environmental degradation and is driven by his powerful vision and understanding of socioeconomic, gender, and racial justice issues.

As Environmental Protection Agency is set to release two vitally important standards next week to protect public health – first, updated emissions standards for petroleum refineries and second, a strengthened ground-level ozone standard – the Houston region will benefit tremendously from Juan’s leadership. These are important developments, but more needs to be done to address pressing environmental justice concerns. Environmental Defense Fund congratulates Juan on this deserving recognition and looks forward to even more improvements in air and health for Houston residents.

Photo source: Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services

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Fostering Growth while Reducing Port Emissions: Important Steps on a Clean Air Journey

tugs-353422_640 pixabayGrowth at the Port of Houston Authority (PHA) is staggering – an estimated 8,500 ships will visit the Houston Ship Channel this year and cargo traffic at the port has increased by over 20 percent compared to last year. That’s after a record-breaking year in 2014. Many worry about how much pollution the additional traffic may bring to the area. After all, diesel emissions from transportation activity at the port are already a contributor to localized air pollution.

But at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we know that business growth and improved quality of life issues can go hand in hand. This summer, Richardson Companies (Richardson) – a stevedoring, warehousing, trucking, and barge company that is one of the largest tenants at the Port of Houston – participated in EDF’s Climate Corps Fellowship Program. This program matches specially trained graduate students with leading organizations to strategize scalable solutions for energy management. On average, over $1 million in energy savings are identified for each host organization. With the help of their graduate fellow, Keegan Hartman, Richardson learned how new transport service, emerging technology, and operational changes would enable them to accommodate increased demand for transport services as well as reduce emissions.

Through the strategies discussed below, Hartman calculated that Richardson could reduce supply chain carbon dioxide emissions by over 1,000 metric tons annually and also save approximately $1 million internally on annual fuel use – producing both environmental benefits for the community and economic rewards for the company. Read More »

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How Training Workshops Strengthen Environmental Justice Understanding

U.S. EPA Region 6 EJ Workshop, Arkansas LaQuinta Downtown Conference Center, June 16-18, 2015

U.S. EPA Region 6 EJ Workshop, Arkansas LaQuinta Downtown Conference Center, June 16-18, 2015

Environmental justice issues are inextricably linked to broader social justice concerns.

That relationship was clear last month at Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6’s Environmental Justice Training Workshop, as a discussion on race, class, and environmental health was punctuated by reflections on the tragic massacre at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC.

The training workshop, held in Little Rock, Arkansas, was one in a series in each of the five states in EPA Region 6, designed to bring together affected communities, government officials, environmental advocates, social justice champions, faith leaders, and academic researchers. Speakers shared their powerful stories of challenge and success. Environmental justice issues weren’t discussed in isolation. Rather, they were considered as one aspect of social injustice facing many Americans that must be addressed. Protecting civil rights and reducing the burden of air pollution – it is all part of the mission to safeguard lives and health. As I listened, I was able to reflect on how my own life has instilled a deep commitment to working on issues like toxic air pollution and improving air quality in urban areas. Read More »

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New EPA Mapping Tool Sheds Light on Pollution Risk and Social Vulnerability

EPA's new mapping and screening tool will help advance environmental justice.

EPA's new mapping and screening tool will help advance environmental justice.

EPA is getting into the mapping game in a big way.

Just this week, they launched an environmental justice (EJ) mapping and screening tool called EJSCREEN, an online, publicly accessible index of environmental indicators based on location. It will be a tremendously helpful resource for the EJ movement.

In the past, concerned citizens, researchers, and advocates would access national databases individually without the ability to bring multiple sources of information together in one clear and consistent platform. EJSCREEN was created to address that issue. It’s a significant milestone that puts environmental and demographic data at your fingertips and empowers you to learn about your community. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Environmental Protection Agency, Uncategorized| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed
  • About the author

    Research Analyst
    Marcelo works on air pollution issues related to seaports and the freight movement sector of transportation. He has developed and analyzed metrics for estimating emissions at ports, worked with EDF’s corporate partners on leveraging their support for pollution mitigation programs, conducted an evaluation of clean truck programs, and partnered with the U.S. EPA and other federal agencies on transportation sustainability.

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    Confluence of SJR, Old, and Middle rivers

    Advocating for healthier air and cleaner energy in Texas through public education and policy influence.

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