Congratulations to the CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas Clean Air Partners Program! They received the 2015 Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Excellence Award in the Community Action category.
The Clean Air Excellence Awards Program recognizes and honors outstanding innovative efforts to help make progress in achieving cleaner air. Awards are given to programs that directly or indirectly reduce pollutant emissions, demonstrate innovation, offer sustainable outcomes, and provide a model for others to follow. Read More
Also posted in Air Pollution Tagged cleanair
I overheard a colleague last week say she was impressed a group of elementary school students were learning about the tragedy of the commons, and it reminded me of what's been going on at the Texas Legislature this session. The "tragedy of the commons" is a term coined in the late 60's by ecologist Garret Hardin, described as "a situation where individuals acting independently and rationally according to each's self-interest behave contrary to the best interests of the whole group by depleting some common resource." It’s an unfortunate allegory for Texas politics and specifically the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 709, which is on its way to the governor’s desk as I write this.
In this case, a few individuals (polluting corporations and the lawmakers they fund) are acting in their self-interest, creating legislation that will get more money in their pockets faster. Unfortunately, the best interests of the whole group (all Texans) are virtually forgotten, and common resources like healthy air and water will suffer. The final bill, SB 709 sponsored by Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), shows Texas' leadership cares more about protecting big polluters at the expense of its citizens.
And while Sen. Fraser’s bill was the one that ultimately passed, the companion measure in the House, House Bill 1865, by Representative Genie Morrison (R-Victoria) included the same agenda and language. Rep. Morrison is from Victoria, Texas. As someone who is supposed to be fighting for the best interests of her constituents, many in Victoria are questioning just whom Morrison and other Texas lawmakers represent. Read More
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
Drayage truck projects can qualify for grants worth up to 50 percent of their cost.
A green supply chain is great for business and the environment, but it’s not every day organizations get an opportunity for help moving their sustainability goals forward. So it was terrific news when EPA last week announced a new opportunity for funding to reduce diesel emissions pollution. Goods movement projects, such as those involving freight and port operations, will be given priority for the more than $13 million in Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) grant funding. As the deadline for applications is June 15, it’s important to get to work now. Since EDF has partnered on a variety of projects in the past to bring these federal funds to Texas to help us meet our air quality challenges, we’ve prepared a DERA 101 primer with suggestions to consider for entities considering the opportunity.
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.