Selected category: Air Pollution

New Video Contest – Houston Teens Care about Clean Air

Environmental Defense Fund is working together with four local high schools on a new video contest about the value of clean air.

EDF is sponsoring the contest for students at four schools in Houston’s East End – Chavez, Furr, Galena Park and Milby.

Students at those schools can submit short videos about the health effects of air pollution in Houston. Winning videos will be eligible to receive prizes worth up to $2,500. Winning students will also have the opportunity to learn filmmaking, editing and post-production techniques from Houston-area filmmaking professionals.

 Student entry forms and video submission instructions are available at the participating schools.

The Challenge

In 2015, Houston experienced 44 days of unhealthy air quality. The region also continues to be unable to meet federal health-based air quality standards for ground-level ozone, commonly referred to as smog.

This is cause for concern. Poor air quality is associated with a range of adverse health effects, including respiratory diseases like asthma, stroke, heart disease, pre-term birth, and cancer.

The sources and distribution of air pollution vary geographically. For example, the 39 million Americans who live near ports (like Houstonians in the East End near the Ship Channel) may have a higher risk of exposure to harmful air pollution from diesel. That’s due to large volumes of diesel-fueled freight traffic and other port-related emissions, such as from ships docking at port and cargo-handling equipment. Emissions from industrial facilities such as petroleum refineries and power plants, as well as from traffic, can also contribute to poor air quality.

The Contest

A major challenge for community leaders working to protect health and improve air quality in the Houston area is a lack of information available to the public regarding the health effects of air pollution. This is especially true for communities living close to the Houston Ship Channel, in Houston’s East End.

Here is where local teens come in:

Students from Chavez, Furr, Galena Park and Milby High Schools are invited to submit a short video about the health effects of air pollution in Houston.

  • Videos should be no longer than 3 minutes in length.
  • Students must be currently enrolled at one of these four Houston-area high schools to participate in this competition.
  • Bilingual videos are eligible and encouraged.

Winning Videos will receive prizes worth up to $2,500

  • First Place Video: $2,500 Visa gift card
  • Second Place Video: $1,500 Visa gift card
  • Third Place Video: $500 Visa gift card

Winning students may also be eligible to learn filmmaking, editing and post-production techniques from Houston-area industry professionals.

All videos must be submitted to school contest coordinators by April 21, 2017 at 11:59 PM Central Time.

Also posted in Houston, Ozone, Ports| Leave a comment

Talking TERP– The Texas Approach to Clean Air (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of: Texas House of Representatives

Photo courtesy of: Texas House of Representatives

(In Part 1 of our series on the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, we provided an overview to the unique approach that Texas has taken to incentivize clean air under a voluntary program that “pays” participants to modernize their older engines and equipment. Today, in Part 2, we’ll consider whether the program has been a good investment in clean air for the state.)

What would you do with $2.4 billion dollars?

In Texas, we dedicated those funds to a program that would reduce emissions – the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP). That’s a serious investment in clean air by the Lone Star State (consider, for example, the cost of the Dallas Cowboys football stadium that came in at a mere $1.2 billion).

This year marks the program’s fifteen year anniversary, so it seems timely to take a look at whether TERP has returned a good investment for the State of Texas.

What makes an investment “good”? A standard answer is that a good investment is one that achieves your goals, whether they are financial, health-related, or some other goal. TERP was created with five statutory objectives, summarized in the Texas Health and Safety Code: Read More »

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Environmental Protection Agency, TCEQ| Comments are closed

Talking TERP– The Texas Approach to Clean Air (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of: Texas House of Representatives

Photo courtesy of: Texas House of Representatives

Texas is home to many unique things – from the iconic Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo to the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Texas), we tend to do things a little differently from the rest of the country.

The same is true with how the state has decided to deal with an air pollution problem that was affecting many areas in the state years ago. Instead of requiring specific actions from businesses and others whose operations create air pollution, our business-friendly state took another tactic – we created a voluntary incentive program to pay for emission reductions.

It’s called the Texas Emissions Reductions Plan – or TERP for short. And it has worked surprisingly well. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Environmental Protection Agency, TCEQ| Comments are closed

Texas Companies Among Winners of EPA Award for Sustainable Freight Transport

trucks flickrEPA just announced the winners of the 2016 SmartWay Excellence Award for sustainable freight transport.

44 companies — out of more than 3,500 partners in the program – were honored for their accomplishments in freight supply chain environmental performance and energy efficiency.

This year’s well-deserved accolades went to 43 truck carriers, seven shippers and one barge carrier – including some SmartWay partners in Texas.

The awards demonstrate that environmental stewardship and economic success go hand in hand, and are an example of EPA’s commitment to recognizing companies that achieve those “win-wins.”  Read More »

Also posted in Clean Car Standards, Climate Change, Dallas Fort-Worth, Environment, Environmental Protection Agency, Goods Movement, Transportation| Comments are closed

Which Came First: Clean Trucks at Ports or a Port Clean Truck Program?

trucks-pixabayThe classic “chicken or the egg dilemma” is often used to talk about cause and effect. Although this question is usually posed as a philosophical examination of some obscure topic, we now have a clear case for true causality: port clean truck programs result in cleaner trucks at ports.

Last week, the Port of New Orleans joined the growing list of ports who have launched formal clean truck programs to encourage trucking companies to replace older, more polluting trucks with newer trucks with fewer emissions. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) supported the Port of New Orleans’ efforts to develop their “Clean Truck Replacement Incentive Program” (Clean TRIP), which will be funded from the EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Program. The funding will assist 20 truck operators in replacing their dirtier diesel trucks by offering up to $35,000 or 50 percent of the cost of a 2012 or newer truck. In addition to the immediate opportunity to reduce emissions from the first 20 trucks, the port will also be able to incentivize more truck replacements in the future, by pursuing additional grants or developing other innovative funding approaches.

The Port of New Orleans joins the Port of Houston as the only two ports on the Gulf Coast with clean truck programs. The efforts in Houston have been successful (and cost-effective, according to a peer-reviewed scientific study conducted by EDF authors) in reducing smog-forming pollution and cancer-causing diesel particulates, but we estimate there are still more than 2,500 trucks operating at the Port of Houston that would benefit from replacement. Read More »

Also posted in Ports, Transportation| Comments are closed

Panama Canal Expansion – Panacea or Problem for Ports in Texas?

Panama Canal -- Photo by Antonio Zugaldia, from Flikr

Panama Canal — Photo by Antonio Zugaldia, from Flikr

Everything is bigger in Texas, they say. Now, with the expansion of the Panama Canal this summer, we may start to see bigger ships in some Texas ports, too. These bigger ships would represent more business for Texas, but there could be a downside. Since these ships have huge engines that emit dangerous pollutants, we could see – and breathe – dirtier air. That’s why it’s so important for us to carefully manage these changes.

In late June, the first post-Panamax ship traveled through the newly-expanded Panama Canal, signaling a new era for mega-containerships and other super-sized vessels that can carry up to three times as much cargo as before. (“Panamax” was the term for the Panama Canal Authority’s size limit for ships traveling through the canal, The new mega-ships are sometimes called “Neopanamax” vessels.)

The expansion of the Panama Canal means that the near monopoly held by west coast ports, like the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach and others, on container trade from Asia may be ending. Instead of offloading cargo in southern California and relying on trains and trucks to transport goods to inland regions in the U.S., shippers will now be able to offload containers from Asia at U.S. ports on the Gulf or East Coast — taking advantage of potentially lower shipping costs and improved economies of scale. Read More »

Also posted in Environment, Goods Movement, Houston, Panama Canal, Ports, Transportation| Read 4 Responses
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