Source: Texas Public Radio
Air pollution and sustainability may not have been hot topics for transportation professionals in the past, but they were widely discussed during the 93rd Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a conference that brings together transportation professionals from around the world. And as we have highlighted in the past, air emissions from the transportation sector are of particular concern in Texas, and many at the conference took note of the state’s progress.
For instance, one panel highlighted efforts to reduce costly cargo truck delays at various Texas-Mexico border crossings. These truck delays occur due to a myriad of reasons, including rush-hour transit times and customs issues, but a recently launched initiative known as the Border Crossing Information System, or BCIS, is aiming to shorten these delays through accurate monitoring and reporting of truck queues and, in turn, reduce harmful air emissions. Read More
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Source: AmCham Colombia
Texas is a big player in international trade and leads the country in exports, sending over $260 billion worth of goods to overseas markets in 2012. While robust trade can bring many positives, it can also present challenges for local air pollution. As we have highlighted before, poor air quality is a growing concern as scientists learn more about the connection between air pollution and diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis and cancer.
What does that mean for a state trying to reduce the impact of freight transportation on urban air quality? As international trade growth continues to strengthen the Texas economy, EDF recognizes that diverse partnerships are pivotal to reducing air pollution here at home.
This week, we are pleased to share the latest of our outreach efforts targeting international freight shippers: our article was published in the AmCham-Colombia Spanish-language magazine Business Mail, in a special issue dedicated to corporate social responsibility. This trade publication reaches hundreds of leading companies engaged in international trade and will enable us to introduce EDF’s principles of green freight transportation to a new audience.
The Business Mail article considers the journey of Colombian coffee as it travels from the highlands of Colombia to stores in North America, transferring to various modes of transportation along the way. For each step of the journey, we highlight an approach that can improve efficiency and sustainability such as sharing container space or choosing fuel-efficient cargo ships. The bottom line of the story is that decisions about trucks, ships and trains made globally can directly impact the quality of air that we breathe in Texas. Read More
Source: The Beat News
On Thursday, health and policy experts will gather in Houston for the Invisible Houston Revisited Three Decades Later Policy Summit at Texas Southern University. The summit will explore and expand upon the topics and themes highlighted in Dr. Robert D. Bullard’s 1987 book Invisible Houston.
Dr. Bullard’s groundbreaking book revealed that Houston’s municipal authorities disproportionally sited environmental hazards, such as garbage dumps and incinerators, in neighborhoods predominately occupied by minorities. Since then, Dr. Bullard, “father of environmental justice” and current Dean of the School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, has led the charge for Environmental Justice, the concept that environmental laws and policies should not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin or income. His advocacy work culminated in the Environmental Justice Executive Order signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, which codified the values of Environmental Justice into law.
Since then, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sought to advance Environmental Justice across the federal government, including developing guidance to consider environmental justice in EPA rulemakings. Ultimately, the goal of this mission is to eliminate the disproportionate impact of industrial activities on environmental justice communities. Read More
Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.
Courtesy of Juan Manuel Salazar
The following story about the clean truck program in Houston appears in the Fall 2013 issue of EDF’s Solutions newsletter. As we have highlighted before, ports are hotspots for air pollution and the best way to mitigate emissions from ships, trucks and other transportation equipment is to engage key stakeholders and find common sense solutions that provide access to cleaner, more efficient technologies. Below is a success story from Houston: Since the H-GAC Drayage Loan Program began in 2010, it has replaced almost 200 of the oldest, most polluting trucks with newer, cleaner ones.
When Juan Manuel Salazar was hauling industrial materials all over Houston in his 1989 International truck, his two daughters worried. “They were concerned about me driving all day, then working half the night to fix the truck,” Salazar says. So it was no surprise that, as an owner-operator, Salazar jumped to qualify for a combined grant and low-interest loan program tailored by EDF and its partners such as the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC). Salazar invested in a cleaner 2012 Kenworth truck that uses less gas and goes farther without problems. “My daughters convinced me,” he says.
A few years before, an emissions inventory found that one-third of the toxic air pollution at the Port of Houston was spewed out by its 3,000-truck drayage fleet. The result was the loan program. Since its creation, almost 200 trucks in Houston have been updated. Read More
Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.
Improving Texas air quality requires a broad coalition. How broad? Well, we know that much of the commerce that is transported through the state either has a foreign origin or destination. Although the delivery takes place in our backyard, many of the crucial decisions that affect that route are made elsewhere. That’s why EDF participated in the 5th Annual Forum on Supply Chain Sustainability in Buenos Aires, Argentina last week.
As the keynote speaker, I provided an overview of EDF’s vision for freight and supply chain sustainability, shared some of our clean air success stories from Houston and presented our “Five Principles for Greener Freight.” I also met with key stakeholders in the international trade and transportation sector, including the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology (ITBA), which is in the midst of developing a study center geared toward sustainable freight strategies. The forum was a tremendous learning opportunity that will enable EDF to strengthen its advocacy at home in Texas by bringing together new partners and applying key lessons from our neighbors.
Many of the challenges Houston and other port cities face in the United States are similar to those in Argentina, such as older, polluting trucks dominating short distance service, lack of sufficient data to make informed sustainability decisions and difficulty in making long-term investments for cleaner, more efficient technology upgrades. Read More
More and more companies are taking an interest in supply chain sustainability and realizing that environmental responsibility is important for business success in the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, Latin America is a key trading partner for Texas and the fastest growing trade region for the United States. It goes without saying that as trade in the Americas expands, companies, governments and organizations throughout the region should increase cooperation on freight sustainability.
Given the growing demand for green logistics, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is pleased to speak at the 5th Forum on Sustainability and Supply Chain to be held next week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This distinctive event plays an important role in Latin America by bringing together practitioners, experts, advocates and business leaders to advance supply chain sustainability.
The forum is hosted by Foro Logística and WebPicking.com, a group that specializes in supply chain logistics in Latin America, and will take place at the Technological Institute of Buenos Aires (ITBA). We look forward to sharing our experience promoting green freight with regional partners and learning about successful strategies that can be implemented in Texas.
A couple of weeks ago, the China Green Ports Technology Reverse Trade Mission brought Chinese transportation officials to Houston to introduce them to U.S. technologies and the trade industry’s best practices to reduce ports’ environmental impact. Green port technologies are of particular interest in China, because seven of the ten largest ports in the world are located in China. The Chinese government and private sector are making efforts to modernize and strengthen China’s maritime management, while reducing its environmental footprint.
The purpose of the mission was to introduce the delegates to innovative technologies and service provider firms associated with green ports. As I spoke with the delegation, the conversation focused on many of the same efforts we are pursuing in the U.S. and right here in Texas, including:
- Reducing the environmental impact of our nation’s seaports;
- Improving the health of communities affected by port activities;
- Increasing the efficiency and sustainability of ports;
- Highlighting best management practices currently deployed at leading ports.
As we move forward with developing a port recognition system to highlight green port efforts across the nation, we know that our partners to the East are thinking likewise. We look forward to continued conversations such as these with new partners on novel technologies, continually improving port environmental impacts.
(Source: Getty Images)
We at EDF have written a lot about the need to transform the nation’s aging electricity system. Now, more than ever, we have to transition away from fossil fuel electricity to reduce our out-of-control greenhouse gas emissions. With renewables poised to make up a quarter of the world’s electricity mix by 2018, it appears we’re making steady progress toward a modern, clean energy grid.
But there’s another global energy system that’s often overlooked: the transportation system. An overwhelming majority of the world’s transportation infrastructure is powered by fossil fuels. Ordinary passenger vehicles, short and long-haul trucks, freight rail, and large cargo ships are all fueled by petroleum. And unlike the grid, we’re still far from transitioning to a clean alternative.
EDF has spearheaded a number of initiatives to help reduce the environmental impact of transportation. Last month, we released a request for proposals for a marine port environmental recognition program. The program will help establish performance benchmarks for ports, so that we can identify and acknowledge those ports making strides toward reducing emissions and improving air quality. EDF is also part of the brain trust of organizations, such as the National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board, working to understand the best practices to modernize the global transportation system and reduce transportation’s environmental footprint. Read More
Recent years have seen significant changes in the global freight and supply chain system. An expanded Panama Canal, significant population growth in the South and Southeast, and new infrastructure and system resiliency demands pose a challenge to our aging freight transportation system. It is crucial for researchers, policy makers and practitioners to work together and prioritize research to overcome these new challenges. Fortunately, the National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board (TRB) is working with stakeholders, including EDF, to advance critical research efforts that will help modernize the global transportation system.
Earlier this month, TRB reviewed ongoing research for marine and freight transportation. In doing so, TRB also established priorities for future studies, with an overarching goal to “promote innovation and progress in transportation.” EDF will partner with TRB to champion innovative research and facilitate a transition to cleaner and more efficient marine and freight transportation choices going forward.
Texas faces many pressing transportation issues of its own. Record traffic growth, rapid expansion at the Port of Houston, booming population growth across the state, and a flurry of oil and gas drilling activity all pose unique infrastructure and air quality challenges to the Lone Star State.
A key transportation challenge faced by Texas is congestion at its U.S.-Mexico border crossings. Emissions from idling trucks at crowded border crossings have brought air pollution concerns in border cities such as El Paso and Laredo. The Texas Department of Transportation is collaborating with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to develop a tool to help streamline border crossings. The Border Crossing Information System provides drivers, carriers and other stakeholders with real-time and historical information about border crossing wait-times and delays. The data make it easy for truck drivers to understand congestion patterns, thereby reducing vehicle idling and harmful air emissions. Read More
Also posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Goods Movement, Houston, Ports
Tagged air quality, Border, Emissions, Ozone, ports, Texas, Transportation, Transportation Research Board
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collected final comments on the proposed Tier 3 vehicle emission and fuel standards. EPA is expected to finalize the standards by the end of the year, enabling automakers to gear up to meet the standards. The anticipated standards, which go into effect in 2017, will reduce the amount of sulfur in U.S. gasoline and tighten emission controls on new passenger vehicles going forward.
These standards will reduce the amount of sulfur in U.S. gasoline and tighten emission controls on new passenger vehicles going forward. With over 19 million cars and trucks on the road, Texas stands to benefit a great deal from the new vehicle regulations.
The American Lung Association’s (ALA’s) 2013 State of the Air report revealed the grim state of air quality in the Lone Star State, placing both Houston and Dallas in the top 10 most ozone-polluted cities in the country. In total, 15 Texas counties received a grade of “F” for ozone pollution. Despite these findings, we believe that Texas has the potential to reduce air pollution throughout the state, and that the EPA’s proposed Tier 3 vehicle emission rules will help.
The ALA’s primary recommendation to address excessive air pollution comes in the form of new regulations on vehicle tailpipe emissions. Unlike power plants and larger industrial facilities, tailpipes release their emissions at ground level in densely populated areas. Thus, busy roadways are an especially hazardous source of air pollution. Many roadways stand as a round-the-clock source of nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide and particulate matter. This puts those who live or work near highways and expressways at greater risk. Read More