Last week, seven other Texas environmental groups came together with Environmental Defense Fund to deliver the following letter to Governor Abbott:
Dear Governor Abbott,
We are proud Texas likes to do things its own way. When Congress passed the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Clean Water Act (CWA) many decades ago, they included provisions that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to delegate administration of the related programs and regulations. Naturally, Texas applied for and received the right from EPA to manage the environmental permitting processes related to the CAA and CWA. A key component, though, was the obligation of states to meet the minimum requirements set by delegation of the federal rules, designed to ensure the safety and health of each state’s citizens.
We are very disappointed about the recent Senate Bill (SB) 709 by Senator Troy Fraser because it would put Texans’ health at risk for the sake of industry, all to solve a problem that does not exist. In addition, this bill puts the State of Texas at risk of losing EPA’s authorization to administer these permitting programs. If we want to protect the health of future generations of Texans, as well as Texas to remain in control of our environmental permitting programs, you must veto this bill. Read More
This post was written by Andrew Hoekzema, Air Quality Program Manager forCapital Area Council of Governments
This Saturday, the Texas Air Quality community will celebrate the life of Bill Gill. Most of us knew Bill either as Air Quality Program Manager at the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) or as the Emissions Inventory Section Manager at the Texas Natural Resources Commission (TNRCC). Bill dedicated his life to public service and improving air quality in Texas, and every day of his 42-year career in air quality put the principles of the Environmental Defense Fund into action – guided by science and economics, he found practical and lasting solutions to Texas’s air quality problems.
His career was extraordinary. In 1972, the State of Texas submitted its first State Implementation Plan under the Clean Air Act. Bill may not have known it at the time, but his career would become a major part of the state’s air quality plans over the next four decades. That same year, he started working in enforcement at the Texas Air Control Board (TACB), which was part of the Texas Department of Health at the time. A decade later, he helped establish the state’s Emissions Inventory section, and later served as the Emissions Inventory Section Manager until he retired in 2002 from the TACB’s successor agency, the TNRCC. In his time at TACB and TNRCC, he built one of the premier programs in the world for assessing emissions and ensuring that decisions on air quality had the best information available. Bill’s work won him national recognition: as the TNRCC’s Emissions Inventory Section Manager, he also co-chaired the national point source committee of the Emissions Inventory Improvement Program for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Read More
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.
Cheryl Bynum, National Program Manager at US EPA, SmartWay, presents the 2015 Affiliate Challenge Honoree award to Environmental Defense Fund.
EDF has long been a champion of the SmartWay program, EPA’s highly successful public-private partnership between more than 3,000 organizations that are committed to improved fuel efficiency and environmental performance. So we were thrilled when EPA named us a 2015 Affiliate Challenge Honoree for our efforts to promote the program in our Green Freight Handbook.
We were recognized last week at the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) conference, and we will participate in a virtual awards ceremony tomorrow. We have impressive company: the American Trucking Association, Penske, TIA, Wisconsin Clean Cities, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments were all named as honorees as well.
The program has helped facilitate positive results in many areas, perhaps most impressively in the goods movement sector. Read More
Flaring in Eagle Ford Shale
The Texas Tribune recently published a piece debunking some of the science behind the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) position on the national health standard for ozone – one of the most ubiquitous and harmful air pollutants on the planet. As outlined in the agency’s latest newsletter, TCEQ’s Director of Toxicology, Mike Honeycutt, questions the benefits of a stronger standard, even though public health experts across the country have been calling for a more protective standard for years. What’s more disappointing than the agency’s apparent anti-health position, however, is the lack of attention to other legitimate air pollution issues in Texas.
It would seem that the agency must have a surplus of staff, as well as unlimited resources to establish such an aggressive position on a standard that hasn’t been proposed yet. The reality is that there are so many more important things that the agency could and should be doing to serve and protect Texas citizens from real air pollution threats, including: Read More
Delivery trucks, wheel-loaders, school buses, and locomotives all have one thing in common – an internal combustion engine that keeps these machines churning for years. Maybe for too many years. The useful life for some of these engines, especially diesel engines, can last decades, deterring owners from upgrading to newer models with greater fuel economy and operational efficiency. Plus, these machines can be very expensive, making it difficult for owners to replace older equipment once the newest, cleanest technology becomes available. From an environmental perspective, this is bad news. Engines emit a variety of dangerous pollutants that adversely affect our health, including particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). So without the means to upgrade polluting, heavy-duty engines, what can owners do?
Enter the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP).
First, EPA established more protective emissions standards that require new engines to be many times cleaner compared to older models. These strong standards have helped drive innovations in engine technology so that emissions are now a fraction of what they once were. Here’s a breakdown: Read More