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Those Who Forget History in Texas are Doomed to Repeat It

(Credit: whoever)

Texas is home to some of the highest polluting power plants in the country.

Recently, the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office announced plans to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan, which would place limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants for the first time in the country. A few days afterward, Texas Governor and former State Attorney General Greg Abbott pledged support for Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell's Just Say No campaign, an effort to encourage states not to comply with the upcoming federal regulations.

Apparently Texas has a short memory. Just a couple of years ago, Texas lost a series of challenges to EPA regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting. Texas refused to issue GHG permits to new and modified large industrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in the establishment of a dual permitting system. This meant industrial facilities, like power plants and refineries, needed to apply to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for some air permits and separately to EPA for the portion of their permit addressing greenhouse gases.

Ultimately, however, Texas industry urged the state to issue the GHG portion of air quality permits as well. And in an about face, after spending millions of taxpayer dollars fighting common sense regulations, Texas regained the ability to issue the state’s GHG permits. Read More »

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EPA’s McCarthy Visits Houston Community to Reaffirm Commitment to Environmental Justice

mccarthy.parras

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.

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Also posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Environmental Justice, Environmental Protection Agency| Read 1 Response

Like Everything Else in Texas, Earth Day Celebrations are BIG!

Source: flickr/jarche

Source: flickr/jarche

This coming Wednesday will be the 45th annual Earth Day, and its growth over the years has been nothing short of remarkable. It started as a 20 million person demonstration across America in 1970. And it is now the largest civic event in the world, with more than one billion participants in 192 countries.

In Texas, there will be a multitude of Earth Day events celebrating our green planet. Since Earth Day lands on a Wednesday, some events will happen before Earth Day and others will occur the following weekend. Here are a few events happening in central Texas:

Austin: The Capital of Texas is once again putting on its annual Austin Earth Day Festival, Saturday, April 18th from noon to 6pm at the Historic Browning Hanger. This event is free to the public and complete with drumming activities, an opportunity to hear major environmental figures speak, a Kid Zone, a chance to recycle your E-waste, and so much more. Austin Earth Day Festival is also a committed zero waste event.

There is another family friendly, Earth Day Fair in Austin at the Wildflower Church on Sunday afternoon, April 19. There will be tables by organizations like Save Our Springs, Faith Community Garden, Tecolote Farm, and more with information on a wide range of green topics. Activities for children and free food will  be available.  Read More »

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March Madness in Austin, Texas: Come for SXSW, stay for ETS!

ETS15Today, I stand at the precipice of SXSW, the annual music, film, and interactive festival that descends upon Austin, Texas every March. In a few weeks, we locals will be on the other side of SXSW, recovering from the three-week burst of good-timin' madness and getting ready for the next event that's always right around the corner.

Lucky for me, what comes next is the Energy Thought Summit! From March 24-26th, thought leaders and innovators from around the world will once again come to town, this time to discuss one of humanity's most complex issues: energy.

Hosted by Zpryme, the Energy Thought Summit (ETS) seeks to be a different kind of conference: less stuffy, more collaborative. ETS "stands for more than thought leadership through energy — it’s about combining industry expertise, radical ideas, and the insatiably creative from all walks of the energy ecosystem and exploring how we connect." Read More »

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In Memory of Hillary Corgey

By: Marcelo Norsworthy and the EDF Family

Kaiba White of Public Citizen contributed to this post.

HillaryHillary Corgey, a strong clean air advocate with our friends at Public Citizen, worked hard to become the person she wanted to be. She was smart, wanted to make a difference, and set out to make herself a policy expert. Hillary passed away earlier this month at the tender age of 27. She will be sorely missed by her friends, family, and colleagues.

Hillary earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government from the University of Houston in 2010. During college, she worked at the Houston SPCA, volunteered for Armando Walle’s campaign, and then served as an intern in his Houston office. She then went on to earn a Master of Arts degree, also in Political Science and Government, from Texas State University in San Marcos in 2012.

Hillary started as an intern in Public Citizen’s Texas office in the summer of 2012 and quickly proved to be an asset to the team. Her personal experience growing up with asthma and struggling to breathe the polluted Houston air made the work personal to her. She gradually became more confident in her work, speaking publicly and working with coalition partners, in addition to doing research. Research was where she excelled most -she was able to dig up more interesting and useful facts in a shorter time than anyone else in the office. Read More »

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Governor Greg Abbott’s Vision for Texas

“My vision is one where individual liberties are not bound by city limits. I will insist on protecting unlimited liberty,” said Governor Greg Abbott on January 8, 2015 to the ideological group Texas Public Policy Foundation. During his speech, Abbott announced he was going to try to undermine local controls, including city regulations that protect trees, limit plastic bag waste, and regulate where fracking can occur. And what a vision of Texas the Governor has.

Abbott’s vision for Texas:

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