Selected category: Climate Change

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.” 

Spotlight on Freight Sustainability Leaders in Texas

Four Texas truck carriers – High Country Transportation, Jack Key Auto Transport, Mustang Express and OutWest Express – were honored with the SmartWay Excellence award this year, demonstrating their commitment to the SmartWay program goals of improving efficiency in the freight industry, reducing fuel use, reducing air pollution, and saving money.

EDF congratulates them – and applauds all 202 SmartWay partners in Texas (up from 177 in 2015.)

These freight leaders include prominent names such as AT&T, Dell Inc., PepsiCo, Inc., and Toyota. In 2013, AT&T (headquartered in Dallas) became the largest wireless carrier to join the program, and Dell Inc. (headquartered in Round Rock, near Austin) has been a SmartWay member since the program’s inception in 2004.

About the SmartWay Program

EPA’s SmartWay program is a market-driven initiative that empowers businesses to move goods in the cleanest, most energy-efficient way possible, while protecting public health and reducing the impacts of climate change.

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.

The ultimate goals of the program are to accelerate the availability, adoption and market penetration of advanced fuel efficient technologies and operational practices in the freight supply chain.

SmartWay has an impressive track record of environmental and economic success. Since 2004, the EPA program has saved more than 170 million barrels of oil — the equivalent of eliminating annual energy use in more than six million homes.

SmartWay’s clean air achievements (almost 73 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 1.5 million tons of nitrogen oxides, and 60,000 tons of particulate matter emissions avoided) are also a boon to public health.

Companies affiliated with the SmartWay Program have saved almost $25 billion in fuel costs to date, supporting the North American freight industry while lowering costs for the consumer.

You can learn more about the SmartWay program, including a complete list of SmartWay partners and 2016 award winners, on the EPA’s SmartWay program website.

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

On the Front Lines: Climate Action from Agriculture Can Help Defend a Texan Way of Life

longhorn-cattle-pixabayBy: Simone Ballard, energy-water nexus intern

Growing up in a rural community in Illinois, agriculture was a part of my everyday reality. My neighbors took pride in their livestock and centennial family farms. It wasn’t just a job for them, but a way of life. Sustaining farms and ranches is still a livelihood for millions of people in this country, putting food on our tables and fueling our economy. This traditional lifestyle is celebrated here in Texas too, but now it faces a unique challenge and opportunity presented by a shifting climate.

So, following the recent historic climate agreement in Paris, now is the time for agriculture to take a prominent role alongside other sectors in leading emission reductions worldwide. Why? The security of our food supply is at stake. The opening remarks of Paris’ COP21 Conference outline the reasons we must take action to mitigate the impacts of a changing climate: …safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change.”

Climate change will impact every facet of human society, so it is critical that diverse groups like agriculture, industry, and municipal contribute new solutions to solving our growing emissions problem. Sometimes those of us who now live in cities – and that’s over half the human population worldwide – forget about agriculture’s critical and tangible role at the beginning of the discussion. However, that narrative is shifting in this pivotal moment of climate discussions, as shown in the above statement.

In Texas, where agriculture makes up a large part of our economy, we should be thinking creatively about how to reduce emissions alongside other major players, like energy industry innovators. If we want to protect our natural resources, keep our communities thriving, and create a healthy environment for many generations to come, we need each sector to play its part and act on climate. Read More »

Also posted in Drought, Energy-Water Nexus| Comments are closed

Texas and Alaska Share a Frontier Spirit – A Good Thing for Climate Action

alaska-pixabayRecently I spoke about the energy-water nexus at the American Water Resources Association spring conference in Anchorage, Alaska. As a Texan in Alaska, I had my first taste of getting what we give: Texans like to walk and talk big, but a lunchtime speaker joked that Texas was “cute” and noted how if you halved Alaska, Texas would be the third largest state.

Alaska and Texas are often mentioned in the same breath: two behemoth states, heavily influenced by oil and a rugged individualism. During my adventure, I posted pictures or status updates of things that wouldn’t be unfamiliar in Texas and tagged them #texasoralaska – things like overheard conversation about seasonal oil work, wind turbines next to oil ports, and a strong liking for local game and seafood (reindeer versus venison, King crab versus Gulf shrimp).

In both states, you hear people talking about changing weather patterns. The man next to me on the plane to Anchorage said they only had two “bad” days of winter and temperatures hit a remarkable 70 degrees in March. The boat captain said red salmon were starting to arrive about three weeks early this year. This sounds remarkably similar to conversations I’ve had with people in Texas about severe drought, hotter summers, and extreme floods that seem to be occurring more frequently.

In the face of a changing climate, tangible impacts are affecting Texans and Alaskans now – usually the most vulnerable groups. These massive states show why we need to prioritize climate action. Despite Alaska and Texas’ close ties to oil, I am hopeful their underlying frontier spirit can help them be better prepared for a warmer future. Read More »

Also posted in Extreme Weather| Read 2 Responses

Houston gets an extension on meeting air standards, but for what purpose?

houston skyline 4.19.16

EPA’s decision to grant the Houston region a new deadline to meet clean air standards may delay air pollution mitigation measures.

Last year was a troubling one for Houston air quality. Some areas recorded ozone concentrations not seen since the early 2000s. Overall, more than half of the regional monitors recorded smog at levels that exceeded the 2008 national health standard for at least four days. This unhealthy air affects everyone, but vulnerable populations such as the young and the elderly are especially susceptible to health effects of poor air quality, including asthma and lung disease.

This is why EPA’s recent decision to grant the Houston region a one-year extension to meet the federal health standards represents a missed opportunity for clean air action. The original deadline for Houston to meet the 2008 health standard was July 2015. Often, EPA grants extensions to areas that are close to attaining the standard. In this case, Houston’s air quality had been improving but took a significant step in the wrong direction last year with a large number of exceedance days.

Why Does it Matter? Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Ozone, Uncategorized| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

TSU Mickey Leland Scholars Join HBCU Student Delegation Attending UN Climate Summit in Paris


Texas Southern University Students Jenice Young, Joy Semien and Steven Washington Attended COP21 in Paris

The Texas Clean Air Matters team is thrilled to share that the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Climate Change Consortium sent 50 student leaders from around the United States to the U.N. COP21 climate summit in Paris, three of whom are Texas Southern University students awarded with the Mickey Leland Scholarship. These students represent future environmentalists, who could have a large impact on the future of Texas in terms of solving the climate crisis. This delegation of students was able to witness the construction of the agreement and had a chance to see countries reach a historic agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilizing global temperatures. You can read more about them in this guest post by Dr. Robert Bullard, one of the foremost experts on environmental justice in the world.

EDF is excited these students had such an amazing opportunity and to witness first hand climate diplomacy in action. Read More »

Also posted in Environmental Justice| Read 1 Response

Why Should Moms (and Dads) Care about Climate Change?

My daughter on a hike in the Texas Hill Country.

My daughter on a hike in the Texas Hill Country.

I am a mom. It’s not the only descriptor I use for myself, but it’s up there at the top. My daughter is three years old. She loves to play outside and hug trees and chase birds and go fishing with her daddy.

I am also a clean energy and climate advocate. My weekdays consist of trying to convince Texas policymakers to take action on climate change, and I sometimes think negotiating with statewide officials is harder than negotiating with a “threenager.”

As parents, our daily lives consist of a million things we have to do to keep the kids fed, dressed, and out of harm’s way. Can’t someone else worry about climate change? The problem with that perspective is, although moms and dads may differ politically, our desire to see our kids grow up happy and healthy is universal. But if enough of us make small changes in our lives and raise our voices on climate and clean energy issues, those actions can add up to a big solution.

Climate change and life as we know it

When a problem seems overwhelming, as climate change often does, it’s helpful to break it down into relatable pieces. Let’s think about how climate change affects our everyday activities with our children. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Ozone| Read 3 Responses
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