Selected category: Air Pollution

Ditch those Dirty Diesels (“TERP” that Old Truck or Tractor!)

Image Source: Flickr/TruckPR

TCEQ can pay for the replacement of dirty diesel equipment with cleaner equivalent machines.

Have you ever heard of “TERPing”?  (Hint: it has nothing to do with pop music singers.)

In Texas, it’s shorthand for when the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) pays owners of dirty diesel equipment to reduce emissions by purchasing cleaner equivalent machines. The program, called the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (the “TERP” in “TERPing”), is a voluntary incentive program focused on improving air quality in the metropolitan areas of the state that have issues with meeting federal clean air requirements for ozone.

Since the TCEQ is accepting applications now, consider “TERPing” your older truck or equipment to apply for some of the $20 million* currently available. It’s a win-win program for all involved that we’ve written about before: Texas gets cleaner air and makes progress on its commitment to meet health-based ozone standards, and owners of heavy-duty equipment get new, cleaner machines.

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Also posted in TCEQ| Tagged , , | Comments are closed

Clearer (and Healthier!) Skies Ahead in Texas’ National Parks – EPA’s Regional Haze Rule Finalized

big-bend-national-park-347397_640 pixabayYesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule aimed to address what’s known as “regional haze” that has been affecting visibility and health in Texas, as well as in our neighbors to the north (Oklahoma and Arkansas). The formation of haze occurs when sunlight interacts with particles in the atmosphere, and this interaction reduces visibility. A part of the federal Clean Air Act, the Regional Haze program requires that states and the federal government develop plans to address air quality in 156 national parks and wilderness areas.

For Texas, the program requires a plan to help improve visibility in Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park. And the final Regional Haze Rule – released yesterday – will require certain outdated power plants in Texas to reduce pollution of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a hazardous pollutant associated with asthma and bronchitis and an important precursor for smog formation.

The finalized rule will allow us all to breathe easier – and better take in Texas’ natural beauty.  Read More »

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Particulate Matter| Tagged | Comments are closed

Texas Takes Backseat Controlling Its Massive Methane Problem

3829465133_78b173bff0_bA new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, finds that methane emissions from oil and gas facilities in North Texas’ Barnett Shale are likely as much as 90 percent higher than previous estimates based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency.

This is no small matter. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas rapidly accelerating the rate of climate change. But it’s also emitted with other harmful pollutants, like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that contribute to smog levels, as well as the cancer causing compound benzene. One study estimates that oil and gas production in the Barnett Shale Region in Texas contributes 19,888 tons of VOCs per year while estimates for the Eagle Ford Shale region just south of San Antonio project oil and gas operations could produce up to 1,248 tons per day VOC by 2018. Both the DFW area and San Antonio are struggling with high smog levels.

And based on the findings of the new methane study, we now know that there are instances where the magnitude of oil and gas emissions is even higher than previously thought. That is especially troubling for the more than 6 million people living in the DFW area who are at risk of developing or exacerbating respiratory and other health problems as a result of this unnecessary air pollution. Unnecessary because recent analysis concludes that emissions can be drastically reduced by implementing cost-effective and “off the shelf” pollution reduction technologies and practices – begging the question: why has Texas, the leading oil and gas producing state, not been a leader on reducing this harmful pollution?

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Also posted in Barnett Shale, Clean Car Standards, Methane, Natural gas, Ozone, TCEQ| Read 1 Response

“Sustainable Ports” in Texas – an Oxymoron?

By: Christina Wolfe, manager, air quality, port and freight facilities, and Kate Zerrenner, manager, energy-water initiatives

800px-Houston_Ship_Channel_Barbours_Cut wikipedia

An oxymoron is “a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings,” according to Merriam-Webster (a commonly given example is “jumbo shrimp”). Ports – with an immense amount of traffic and heavy cargo coming and going – have recently been equated with power plants in terms of air pollution. Some might suggest that the concept of a ‘sustainable port’ is impossible.

It’s not, actually.

Earlier this year, the first “zero-emissions terminal in the world” opened at a port in the Netherlands using equipment that releases no pollutants from a tailpipe and on-site wind energy for power demands. And closer to home, large ports in the U.S. have taken promising steps, like the Port of Seattle’s aggressive energy efficiency initiatives.

Texas ports have some work to do, both to keep up with strong economic growth (like the record year the Port of Houston is projecting) and because Texas already leads the country in climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. But the good news is there is a way they could very quickly up their game: the use of renewable energy. And in the midst of historic climate talks in Paris, there is no better time for Texas ports to consider commonsense investments that safeguard both public health and the global climate.

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Also posted in Energy-Water Nexus, Ports, Renewable Energy, Transportation| Comments are closed

The Greener Side of Freight Transportation

Port Freeport Operations Manager, Jesse Hibbetts, provides a tour of Berth 7 at the Velasco Terminal.

Port Freeport Operations Manager, Jesse Hibbetts, provides a tour of Berth 7 at the Velasco Terminal.

This post first appeared on the EDF Climate Corps Blog.

This summer I had the opportunity to work with Port Freeport, a deep-water seaport in Freeport, Texas, on developing a new supply chain strategy from scratch. Currently, empty containers are trucked from Houston to Freeport for loading. Then, the filled containers are driven back to Houston completing the round-trip cycle. This long-haul covers 162.2 miles. Port Freeport’s new approach, which would reduce truck trips, emissions and costs, would issue a permit for overweight vehicles to move goods from industry to Port property. Once on site, these containers would be loaded onto a barge and shuttled to Houston. This process is more commonly referred to as short sea shipping or container-on-barge. Read More »

Also posted in Environment, Ports, Uncategorized| Tagged , | Comments are closed

EPA SmartWay Partners Receive National Recognition for Environmental Accomplishments

Image Source: Flickr/TruckPR

This year, 11 companies out of 3,220 partners received the 2015 SmartWay Excellence Award in the shipping and logistics categories.

In recognition of their accomplishments, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced recipients for the 2015 SmartWay Excellence Award, which “honors top shipping, logistics, and carrier company partners for superior environmental performance.” The accolades were well deserved, and the latest example of EPA’s commitment to recognizing companies that achieve win-wins, demonstrating that environmental stewardship and economic success go hand in hand.

EPA’s SmartWay program is a public-private partnership with a primary focus on encouraging more sustainable freight transport. With more than 3,220 SmartWay members nationwide, the program emphasizes measuring environmental performance criteria, such as fuel efficiency and use of cleaner technologies. Membership is voluntary, so businesses choose to make energy-efficient transportation decisions and are then eligible to receive national recognition for achieving high environmental performance. Read More »

Also posted in Environment, Environmental Protection Agency, SmartWay| Read 1 Response
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