Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: April 3, 2019

Why do Texas officials need a disaster to police polluters? [Editorial]

(Houston Chronicle, Updated 03/31/2019. Photo by Godofredo A. Vasquez)

“Routinely accepting companies’ excuses for unauthorized pollution makes it easy for them to skirt state laws, avoid sanctions and endanger Texans’ health without us ever knowing. Pretty much the only time Texas polluters are held seriously accountable is when the harm they’ve caused is so obvious, so egregious, it’s written in the sky — quite literally in the case of the recent ITC chemical fires.” houstonchronicle.com

KMCO Crosby plant fire won’t be the last if Texas doesn’t police polluters [Editorial]

(The Editorial Board – Houston Chronicle, Updated 04/02/2019. Photo by Godofredo A. Vasquez)

“Another hellish plume of black smoke. Another captive community ordered to shelter in place. Another chemical plant with a long history of regulatory violations. Only this time, the fire was deadly. People across the Houston region can be forgiven for feeling a bit of déjà vu Tuesday afternoon as live local news coverage depicted fiery scenes at a chemical plant in Crosby owned by KMCO LLC. Law enforcement said one person had been killed and two were LifeFlighted to the hospital.” houstonchronicle.com

Equity matters. Houston needs to protect everyone from flooding. [Opinion]

(Iris Gonzalez – Houston Chronicle, 03/26/2019. Photo by Marie D. De Jesús)

“For decades, federal dollars for flood control have been spent in Houston and Harris County using federally mandated criteria that pay out to the properties with high value, regardless of how many — or few — people are protected. One consequence is that some areas, and some people, are at higher risk of flooding than others. Those federally mandated criteria have left some communities behind.” houstonchronicle.com

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Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: March 27, 2019

Harris County sues ITC over Deer Park fire

(Zach Despart – Houston Chronicle, Updated 03/26/2019. Photo by Scott Dalton)

“Harris County has sued Intercontinental Terminals Co. for failing to prevent a massive chemical fire that burned for more than 60 hours last week and spewed an unknown volume of hazardous chemicals into the air and nearby waterways. The county is seeking a temporary injunction and restraining order against the company, alleging that it violated the Texas Clean Air Act and the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act, among other rules.” houstonchronicle.com

Remember Harvey? Houston remains unprepared for the next big flood. [Editorial]

(The Editorial Board – Houston Chronicle, 03/23/2019. Photo by Melissa Phillip)

“Imagine a 25-foot tall toxic wave of seawater and carcinogens. When that happens, the flotsam in Buffalo Bayou won’t be a celebratory procession. It’ll be chemical tanks and long-haul trucks, homes and corpses. Our city’s hopes for the 21st century will be washed away.” houstonchronicle.com

A childhood in Deer Park, brought to you by petrochemicals [Opinion]

(Sara Cress – Houston Chronicle, 03/20/2019. Photo by Melissa Phillip)

“I came to understand this area as a place I couldn’t trust. Small explosions and leaks became rote for us. I could see the flares burning nearby at night, brighter on holidays. It was our Southern Lights — a gray sky flashing with streaks of orange. Many believed the plants flared more toxic materials on holidays because regulators weren’t paying attention then.” houstonchronicle.com

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Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: March 20, 2019

Deer Park plant on fire at Intercontinental Terminals Co has history of environmental violations

(Matt Dempsey – Houston Chronicle, 03/18/2019. Photo by Elizabeth Conley)

“Before it was engulfed in flames, a Deer Park chemical facility had a long history of violating state and federal environmental rules. Intercontinental Terminals Company’s Deer Park facility violated clean air and clean water rules multiple times since 2009 and was cited for not following federal risk management regulations, records show. Federal, state and county regulators issued more than $65,000 in civil penalties to ITC during that time.” houstonchronicle.com

Oil sector’s climate pledges fall short of science

(James Osborne – Houston Chronicle, 03/14/2019. Photo by Michael Wyke)

“For the throngs of oil executives mingling around downtown Houston this week, phrases like energy transition and low carbon future have become as essential as navy suits and chauffeured black SUVs. But for all their pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit, the sector is on a very different timetable than what scientists say is necessary if the world is to avoid the worst outcomes of climate change.” houstonchronicle.com

Time for Sylvester Turner to live up to ‘climate mayor’ title [Opinion]

(Rebekah Hinojosa – Houston Chronicle, 03/14/2019. Photo by Brett Coomer)

“Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner knows that climate change is real. He has said so many times since Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston. The first time I heard him talk about the connection between climate change and the hurricane, I thought: “This is one politician who actually gets it.” After all, the bar is low in Texas, where many lawmakers don’t accept basic climate science. Turner is even the co-chair of a group called “Climate Mayors.” That’s why it was so shocking to hear Houston’s climate mayor actively throwing his support behind some of the most ill-conceived fossil fuel infrastructure in the state — a liquified natural gas export terminal in Brownsville.” houstonchronicle.com

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