Texas Clean Air Matters

Ahead of the People’s Climate March, climate justice is on this ninth-generation Texan’s mind

2011 was the year of Texas’ historic drought, and it was also the year my dad sold all the cattle on our ranch, which had been in our family for four generations. The drought brought to close a chapter in my family’s history, and a change in our long-standing relationship to the land that had given back to us for so long.

I’m not only a ninth generation Texan, but also the ninth generation of my family to be born in the City of Laredo. The community I come from is not wealthy. In fact, it is very poor. Laredo’s poverty rate is at about 30 percent. And it is not only poor but it is also 95 percent Mexican-American. Poverty and racism are factors that make communities vulnerable to all kinds of impacts, and climate change is one of them.

But my family is lucky. Even though our cattle business was impacted by the drought, my father has a career outside of ranching that makes up most of his income. The same is not true for the many people who were impacted by agricultural losses that year, totaling $10 billion statewide. National reports noted that temperature extremes were connected to manmade climate change, which doubled the chance that heat waves would occur. Read More »

Posted in Climate Change / Tagged | Comments are closed

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 | Comments are closed

A Neighborly Approach to Cleaning the Air in South Texas

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

Is that flare operating efficiently? Is it dangerous to my health? Whom do I ask? Whom do I tell? These are the types of questions an emerging workshop developed by EDF and RGISC aims to answer.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently ranked the Eagle Ford Shale play as the nation’s largest oil field. But with oil wells often comes wasted gas, something Texas knows all too well. A huge portion of the gas pulled from oil wells in the Eagle Ford is burned away— often sending damaging pollutants into our environment.

An investigative report published in the San Antonio Express-News last year found “the rate of Eagle Ford flaring was 10 times higher than the combined rate of the state’s other oil fields.” The same researchers found that from 2009 through the first seven months of 2014 oil and gas operators in the Eagle Ford region wasted about 94 billion cubic feet of natural gas – roughly enough gas to serve the heating and cooking needs of all the homes in San Antonio over four years. Excessive or improper flaring is not only a waste of a valuable resource, but can also have harmful health effects and damage the environment.  Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Flare emissions, Natural gas, Oil / Tagged | Comments are closed