EPA's new mapping and screening tool will help advance environmental justice.
EPA is getting into the mapping game in a big way.
Just this week, they launched an environmental justice (EJ) mapping and screening tool called EJSCREEN, an online, publicly accessible index of environmental indicators based on location. It will be a tremendously helpful resource for the EJ movement.
In the past, concerned citizens, researchers, and advocates would access national databases individually without the ability to bring multiple sources of information together in one clear and consistent platform. EJSCREEN was created to address that issue. It’s a significant milestone that puts environmental and demographic data at your fingertips and empowers you to learn about your community. Read More
Several weeks ago, I attended an ozone workshop sponsored by the toxicology division at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and facilitated by Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA). Ozone, a component of smog, is a harmful air pollutant that is associated with adverse health effects including asthma attacks, decreased lung function, and premature death.
EPA has proposed new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) within the range of 65-70 parts per billion (ppb), and, according to TCEQ, this workshop was "designed to provide an independent evaluation and synthesis of key considerations for approaching the difficult ozone NAAQS decision."
Given the importance of this pollutant to public health, it is unfortunate a state environmental agency – that has plenty of other higher priority issues – chose to spend taxpayer money on a workshop designed to mislead the public and present a one-sided perspective on the issue.
What were the problems with TCEQ’s workshop? Read More
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
Update: Governor Abbott signed SB 709 into law on May 23, 2015.
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.