EPA's revised ozone standard is an improvement, but it falls short of adequately protecting public health.
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a modest but important step forward in improving air quality by revising the standard for ground-level ozone or smog. EPA today finalized a standard of 70 parts per billion (ppb) — at the least protective end of the range recommended by the EPA’s independent scientific advisors and the nation’s leading health and medical societies.
Texans, and particularly those most vulnerable to air pollution such as children and the elderly, face challenges associated with harmful air quality and now is the time to come together as a state and implement solutions that will reduce this pollution. The Houston region has made strides in reducing emissions while continuing to grow and demonstrated that we have effective tools to improve air quality across Texas.
Earlier this month, Juan Parras, founder and director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (Tejas), was recognized as the 2015 recipient of the Robert Bullard Environmental Justice Award by the Sierra Club. Juan has worked for decades in Houston and along the Gulf Coast to improve the health and welfare of communities and is known for his dedication, courage, and optimism. Juan has been committed to improving the lives of those most affected by environmental degradation and is driven by his powerful vision and understanding of socioeconomic, gender, and racial justice issues.
As Environmental Protection Agency is set to release two vitally important standards next week to protect public health – first, updated emissions standards for petroleum refineries and second, a strengthened ground-level ozone standard – the Houston region will benefit tremendously from Juan’s leadership. These are important developments, but more needs to be done to address pressing environmental justice concerns. Environmental Defense Fund congratulates Juan on this deserving recognition and looks forward to even more improvements in air and health for Houston residents.
Photo source: Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services
Growth at the Port of Houston Authority (PHA) is staggering – an estimated 8,500 ships will visit the Houston Ship Channel this year and cargo traffic at the port has increased by over 20 percent compared to last year. That’s after a record-breaking year in 2014. Many worry about how much pollution the additional traffic may bring to the area. After all, diesel emissions from transportation activity at the port are already a contributor to localized air pollution.
But at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we know that business growth and improved quality of life issues can go hand in hand. This summer, Richardson Companies (Richardson) – a stevedoring, warehousing, trucking, and barge company that is one of the largest tenants at the Port of Houston – participated in EDF’s Climate Corps Fellowship Program. This program matches specially trained graduate students with leading organizations to strategize scalable solutions for energy management. On average, over $1 million in energy savings are identified for each host organization. With the help of their graduate fellow, Keegan Hartman, Richardson learned how new transport service, emerging technology, and operational changes would enable them to accommodate increased demand for transport services as well as reduce emissions.
Through the strategies discussed below, Hartman calculated that Richardson could reduce supply chain carbon dioxide emissions by over 1,000 metric tons annually and also save approximately $1 million internally on annual fuel use – producing both environmental benefits for the community and economic rewards for the company. Read More
There has been clean air progress at ports, but more leaders are calling for zero-emission strategies
When surveying the clean air progress in freight hubs like ports, community leaders and environmental advocates can see hard work has paid off.
But they also see we must do more as a nation to fully protect the health and environment of communities near goods movement corridors.
And when faced with the expected 45 percent growth in freight transportation from 2012 to 2040 – as well as the sound science linking diesel exhaust to damaging health effects like asthma – many leaders are calling for the next generation milestone for clean air efforts: zero-emission strategies. Read More
This post, written by Adrian Shelley, Air Alliance Houston executive director, originally appeared on airCurrent News.
Spring is coming to Houston, and with it the start of ozone season. You probably haven’t thought about ozone yet this year, and with all the cold weather we’ve had, you could be forgiven. But Houston’s ozone season officially began on March 1, and it may be time to start thinking about this pernicious air pollutant once again.
First we should remember that 2015’s ozone season begins amid a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to lower the federal ozone pollution standard. Comments on that proposal were due this week. Air Alliance Houston, with help from students at the University of Houston Law Center, submitted comments calling for a standard as low as 60 parts per billion. The best science of the day indicates that such a low standard is needed to protect public health.
Meanwhile our Governor Greg Abbott, along with Governors from ten other states, ignored public health needs and asked the EPA not to update the ozone standard again, ever. Governor Abbott et. al. claim that the new ozone standard will cost billions of dollars and 1.4 million jobs nationwide. This claim ignores a recent EPA study of the results of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020, which estimates that benefits from implementing the Act exceed costs by a factor of more than 30 to 1.
So there are some hard questions about what the ozone standard will be in the future. But putting those aside for right now, what do you need to know for 2015’s ozone season? Read More
EDFers Marcelo Norsworthy and Chris Wolfe (L) with Rachel Powers, Executive Director of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC).
The Houston environmental community was strengthened and reinvigorated after last week’s Greater Houston Environmental Summit, an event organized by the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC). The summit was designed to allow local environmental leaders to share their take on how Houston is addressing key challenges related to growth, transportation, air quality, and infrastructure. A principle message from the summit was how high-paced growth and demographic changes have been altering the face of Houston. What does Houston’s rapidly-growing, multi-ethnic population, in fact, mean for environmental issues?
Houston, the 6th largest metro region, is expected to see its population jump to more than 7 million people by 2020. This rapid growth means that, while there are more pressures on natural resources like air quality, there may also be a new resolve to make significant emissions reductions. As many of the speakers at the summit highlighted, the time is now to move the needle on a number of environmental challenges facing Houston and its diverse population. Read More
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