Fostering Growth while Reducing Port Emissions: Important Steps on a Clean Air Journey

tugs-353422_640 pixabayGrowth 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 »

Posted in Goods Movement, Houston, Ports| Tagged | Leave a comment

Why Should Moms (and Dads) Care about Climate Change?

My daughter on a hike in the Texas Hill Country.

My daughter on a hike in the Texas Hill Country.

I am a mom. It’s not the only descriptor I use for myself, but it’s up there at the top. My daughter is three years old. She loves to play outside and hug trees and chase birds and go fishing with her daddy.

I am also a clean energy and climate advocate. My weekdays consist of trying to convince Texas policymakers to take action on climate change, and I sometimes think negotiating with statewide officials is harder than negotiating with a “threenager.”

As parents, our daily lives consist of a million things we have to do to keep the kids fed, dressed, and out of harm’s way. Can’t someone else worry about climate change? The problem with that perspective is, although moms and dads may differ politically, our desire to see our kids grow up happy and healthy is universal. But if enough of us make small changes in our lives and raise our voices on climate and clean energy issues, those actions can add up to a big solution.

Climate change and life as we know it

When a problem seems overwhelming, as climate change often does, it’s helpful to break it down into relatable pieces. Let’s think about how climate change affects our everyday activities with our children. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Climate Change, Ozone| Read 3 Responses

Pope Francis' Climate Message Speaks to All Faiths

By: Reverend Sally G. Bingham, president and founder of Interfaith Power & Light

pope_francis_photo_wikimediaIt’s unfortunate that discussions about climate change, which should focus on solutions and our responsibility to act, often become political arguments. That’s why it’s so refreshing and important that Pope Francis, who will address Congress this month, is bringing us all back to what really matters.

The climate change debate should be about what kind of world we want to leave our children, and how we treat the most vulnerable among us.

I’m an Episcopal priest and have been working at the crossroads of religion and climate change for 15 years. I deeply respect Pope Francis’ powerful, moral voice.

All of us, Catholic or not, Christian or not, must recognize our responsibility and obligation to act in the face of human-induced climate change. Read More »

Posted in Climate Change| Comments are closed

Ozone—A Problem San Antonio Can No Longer Afford to Ignore

EagleFordFlareLate August provided a vivid reminder of San Antonio’s decade long challenge with air quality and a timely preview of an issue the entire region will be talking about next month:  ground level ozone (a.k.a. smog).

The last week of August, San Antonio air monitors registered some of the highest smog readings of the year. In fact, the city’s smog levels were higher than any other city in Texas on August 27.

Put simply, if you have asthma, or other breathing difficulties, you probably had a pretty tough time that week. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Environmental Protection Agency, Natural gas, Oil, Ozone, San Antonio| Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

Three Ways Texas’ Latino Communities can Fight Climate Change and Protect Health

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

Daily Ozone Air Quality Index in Texas for August 28, 2015 via AIRNow. Orange indicates that air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Daily Ozone Air Quality Index in Texas for August 28, 2015 via AIRNow. Orange indicates that air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Growing up in the heat of South Texas, praying for rain was a daily ritual. Droughts are common there, and climate change is making them more intense and thus more devastating. Yet Texans are surrounded by inaccurate political messages that cast doubt on evidence that humans are causing climate change. This kind of rhetoric is physically and economically harmful, especially to the 40 percent of Texans who are Hispanic or Latino, because these populations are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has partnered with League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to raise awareness and action on environmental issues that impact our health. LULAC is the largest and oldest nationwide Hispanic civil rights organization in the U.S.  Recently, I had the honor of speaking with the Greater Houston LULAC Council at their monthly breakfast about how climate change impacts Latinos in Texas. Juan Parras, Founder and Director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), joined me at the event and drove the point home by discussing how climate change and industrial pollution is affecting Latinos in Houston. Together, we sought to inform our audience of the role they can play to stop damaging rhetoric and get involved to support climate change solutions and public health protections. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Clean Power Plan, Methane, Natural gas, Ozone| Tagged | Comments are closed

The Important Role of Voluntary Efforts and Partnerships in Port Sustainability – a New Orleans Perspective

Image credit: Tracie Morris Schaefer, courtesy of the Port of New Orleans

Image credit: Tracie Morris Schaefer, courtesy of the Port of New Orleans

By Amelia Pellegrin, Port of New Orleans Environmental Services Manager

The Port of New Orleans is working to shift the discussion from ports as sources of pollution, to ports as generators of solutions that engage not just the maritime industry and freight stakeholders, but the communities we border and the workers that make their living at the Port.

Most recently, our Port was recognized in the Green Marine certification program for making the commitment to improve environmental performance. Our efforts to date include creating an environmental management program that has made major strides in just two years, in large part due to working with partners to search for solutions. From launching the first public fleet of electric vehicles in the state to engaging our stakeholders in strategies for trash free waters, we are moving quickly to capture momentum from across Greater New Orleans and the global shipping industry for much-needed environmental progress. Read More »

Posted in Environment, Ports| Tagged , | Comments are closed
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