Partnering for clean air in Houston (Roger Guenther, Port of Houston; Gina McCarthy, EPA; Janiece Longoria, Port of Houston; Jack Steele, Houston-Galveston Area Council; Elena Craft, EDF)
In our efforts to improve air quality in Texas, we often work with diverse partners on projects that deliver emission reductions or bring clean technologies to market. We help pursue funding opportunities for projects whenever we can, to ensure that that they have the resources they need for success. So we are pleased to report two successful awards funded from the EPA to reduce emissions from drayage trucks operating at the Port of Houston. Nearly $2 million in federal funding, along with more than $2.5 million in local funds, will be used to clean up some of the dirtiest vehicles operating at the port – drayage trucks.
- The first project is a partnership between the Port of Houston Authority and the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) to replace 14 drayage trucks that carry containers and other cargo to and from the port.
- The second project will be administered directly by the Port of Houston Authority. Two companies that operate at the port, Richardson Companies and Gulf Winds, will replace 25 drayage trucks from their existing fleets.
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.
There is an assault on public health and environmental integrity underway in the Texas Legislature right now that’s the worst I’ve seen in my twenty-something years as an environmental advocate.
The Texas Legislature is currently considering a series of bills that would eliminate much of the important rules protecting not just air and water, but also public health and safety. Many of these laws have been in place for decades and are critical in a state where the energy industry and large polluting companies are a key part of our economy.
Here’s a run-down of some of the worst bills being considered at the Texas Legislature and the elected “leaders” sponsoring them: Read More
By: Sarah Holland, Director, CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas
Ozone season is now upon us, which means citizens and cities need to be aware of daily ozone levels and how they impact daily life. Ozone, also known as smog, is a harmful air pollutant that is associated with adverse health effects, including asthma attacks, decreased lung function and premature death. Children, older Americans, and those with preexisting respiratory conditions are especially at risk. Poor air quality not only affects public health, but is bad for the Texas economy as well. Currently our region is on the cusp of nonattainment, meaning several cities in Texas do not meet federal health-based air quality standards. Designation could mean a requirement for new emission reduction control measures. In addition, a non-attainment designation has several consequences, including diminished attractiveness for talent recruitment, new businesses, and families. Read More
This post, written by Adrian Shelley, Air Alliance Houston executive director, originally appeared on airCurrent News.
Spring is coming to Houston, and with it the start of ozone season. You probably haven’t thought about ozone yet this year, and with all the cold weather we’ve had, you could be forgiven. But Houston’s ozone season officially began on March 1, and it may be time to start thinking about this pernicious air pollutant once again.
First we should remember that 2015’s ozone season begins amid a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to lower the federal ozone pollution standard. Comments on that proposal were due this week. Air Alliance Houston, with help from students at the University of Houston Law Center, submitted comments calling for a standard as low as 60 parts per billion. The best science of the day indicates that such a low standard is needed to protect public health.
Meanwhile our Governor Greg Abbot, along with Governors from ten other states, ignored public health needs and asked the EPA not to update the ozone standard again, ever. Governor Abbot et. al. claim that the new ozone standard will cost billions of dollars and 1.4 million jobs nationwide. This claim ignores a recent EPA study of the results of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020, which estimates that benefits from implementing the Act exceed costs by a factor of more than 30 to 1.
So there are some hard questions about what the ozone standard will be in the future. But putting those aside for right now, what do you need to know for 2015’s ozone season? Read More
Also posted in Houston, Ozone
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