Selected category: Houston

Houston students share stories about the air they breathe

In Bianca Ibarra’s neighborhood on Houston’s eastside, the smokestacks are simply a given, part of the landscape.

“It surrounds us,” she said. “When you leave for the first time as a kid, it’s a shock. You see that other places do not have this. We are living in one of the most polluted cities in the country.”

To help others understand that this is not normal or healthy, Ibarra, 18, produced “Houston, At What Cost?” The three-minute video details how air pollution damages hearts and lungs and offers ways for young people to help solve the problem.

Her work won the first video contest sponsored by Environmental Defense Fund for students from high schools near the heavily industrialized Houston Ship Channel.

Elena Craft, senior health scientist at EDF, said the contest provided students with a platform to talk about air pollution, a pressing concern in the eight-county Houston region, which has yet to meet federal standards for ozone, or smog. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Ozone, Particulate Matter| Comments are closed

Texas lawmakers, take note: The business case for clean air

Texas lawmakers are nearing the end of another legislative session. Before they leave Austin, though, there are two things that we would like them to do to improve air quality:

  1. They should extend the successful Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, or TERP, beyond 2019.
  2. They should fully fund the program.

This matters because the 16-year-old program works.

Last week, the Houston Chronicle published an op-ed on the importance of this program, co-authored by EDF’s Dr. Elena Craft and Nolan Richardson, president of Richardson Companies, Port Houston’s largest tenant.

Here is the bottom line – Clean air is good for business.

EDF supports this program because it has been an excellent investment for Texas.

We also remind lawmakers that there is work to do until every Texan has access to clean air. Cities and counties across the state continue to receive alerts for unhealthy air. Today is another bad ozone day for Dallas-Fort Worth and the eight-county Houston region.

We urge lawmakers to finish the job by extending TERP and using every cent collected for the program on its intended purpose.

Also posted in Air Pollution, Dallas Fort-Worth, Legislation, Ozone| Comments are closed

In Memory of Leah Oberlin

Leah Oberlin

We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Leah Oberlin, Director of Environmental Affairs at Port Houston, last week.

Over the past couple of years, Leah’s leadership helped strengthen EDF’s partnership with Port Houston on air quality and sustainability initiatives.

Just last summer, Leah championed the Port’s sponsorship of a successful EDF Climate Corps project that analyzed opportunities for on-site energy efficiency and renewable energy generation.

We will miss Leah’s energy and genuine commitment to environmental stewardship.

From everyone in the EDF Texas office, our thoughts and prayers are with Leah’s family, and with the greater Houston ports and transportation community – where she was considered an important colleague and friend by so many.

A memorial in Leah’s honor will be held this Saturday, May 13, at 1:00 p.m. at the Jasek Chapel of Geo H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.

Also posted in Environment| Read 1 Response

Texas Lawmakers Are Holding a Billion Dollars of Clean Air Funds Hostage

Houston skyline

What do you think that healthy communities, opportunities for businesses to expand, and diesel engines have in common?

The answer: in Texas, they’re tied together through a successful voluntary program called the Texas Emissions Reductions Plan (TERP).

TERP helps our state by:

  1. Working toward making sure all Texans breathe clean air
  2. Supporting business growth by ensuring that both Clean Air Act requirements are met and that businesses can attract talent to Texas
  3. Modernizing heavy-duty vehicle and equipment fleets through incentives for replacing the oldest, most polluting vehicles and equipment with clean technologies

TERP has been heralded by many diverse cheerleaders. We have talked about TERP’s success (and areas for improvement) in the past on Texas Clean Air Matters, but we aren’t alone in our support for the program. In fact, the program’s achievements were recently mentioned by Secretary of Energy and former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who talked about TERP during his confirmation hearing opening statement. The program is also supported by both the Texas Association of Business as a 2017 Legislative Priority, and the Texas Clean Air Working Group (comprised of many local government officials, including air quality planners and others) which advocates for full funding of the program. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Dallas Fort-Worth, Legislation, San Antonio| Comments are closed

New Video Contest – Houston Teens Care about Clean Air

Environmental Defense Fund is working together with four local high schools on a new video contest about the value of clean air.

EDF is sponsoring the contest for students at four schools in Houston’s East End – Chavez, Furr, Galena Park and Milby.

Students at those schools can submit short videos about the health effects of air pollution in Houston. Winning videos will be eligible to receive prizes worth up to $2,500. Winning students will also have the opportunity to learn filmmaking, editing and post-production techniques from Houston-area filmmaking professionals.

 Student entry forms and video submission instructions are available at the participating schools.

Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Ozone, Ports| Comments are closed

Panama Canal Expansion – Panacea or Problem for Ports in Texas?

Panama Canal -- Photo by Antonio Zugaldia, from Flikr

Panama Canal — Photo by Antonio Zugaldia, from Flikr

Everything is bigger in Texas, they say. Now, with the expansion of the Panama Canal this summer, we may start to see bigger ships in some Texas ports, too. These bigger ships would represent more business for Texas, but there could be a downside. Since these ships have huge engines that emit dangerous pollutants, we could see – and breathe – dirtier air. That’s why it’s so important for us to carefully manage these changes.

In late June, the first post-Panamax ship traveled through the newly-expanded Panama Canal, signaling a new era for mega-containerships and other super-sized vessels that can carry up to three times as much cargo as before. (“Panamax” was the term for the Panama Canal Authority’s size limit for ships traveling through the canal, The new mega-ships are sometimes called “Neopanamax” vessels.)

The expansion of the Panama Canal means that the near monopoly held by west coast ports, like the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach and others, on container trade from Asia may be ending. Instead of offloading cargo in southern California and relying on trains and trucks to transport goods to inland regions in the U.S., shippers will now be able to offload containers from Asia at U.S. ports on the Gulf or East Coast — taking advantage of potentially lower shipping costs and improved economies of scale. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Goods Movement, Panama Canal, Ports, Transportation| Read 4 Responses
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    Confluence of SJR, Old, and Middle rivers

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