86th Texas Legislature Review

May 27, 2019, marked the end of the 86th Texas Legislative Session, which began in January. A plethora of environmental disasters–including multiple floods; the March fires at the ExxonMobil refinery in Baytown and the ITC petrochemical storage facility in Deer Park; and the April chemical fire and deadly explosion at the KMCO warehouse in Crosby–have plagued Houston in recent years. These horrific events raised expectations that environmental-related issues would be a substantial focus of the 86th session. (The subsequent fire and explosion at a second ExxonMobil Baytown plant in July reinforced the need for such a focus.)

And the legislative session, the first since Hurricane Harvey, did indeed put forth some environmental legislation, including increased funds to support flood mitigation. We asked some of our member organizations to give us their feedback on the legislature’s environmental activities.

The following information summarizes reports shared by six of those groups, listed below. For more information and in-depth analyses, please visit their websites. 

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Houston Environmental News Update September 18, 2019

Houston Bird Week, Houston Climate Action Plan comments, Adopt-a-Beach Fall Cleanup, Mayoral and Council member forums Green Jobs, and more

In honor of its 50th anniversary, our friends at Houston Audubon are hosting the first-ever Houston Bird Week starting this Saturday, September 21, and running through September 28. Equal parts fun, education, and celebration, the event will allow area residents to experience firsthand the important role Houston plays in the journey of billions of migratory birds, and the everyday life of our urban-dwelling birds.

Events will include bird hikes, bird surveys, watch parties, lectures, a raptor photo shoot, and much more.

The festivities will begin with a Kick-Off Party and Bird Bird Launch at Bakfish Brewing Company, featuring the announcement of the winner of the first-ever Bird of Houston contest. For a full listing of events, visit houstonaudubon.org.

Also, this Saturday marks the conclusion of National Estuaries Week (discussed in this space last week). Galveston Bay Foundation is partnering with the Texas General Land Office and Port of Houston on Sept. 21 for an Adopt-A-Beach cleanup of Morgan’s Point. It’s one of many cleanups along the Texas Gulf Coast, part of the annual Fall Adopt-A-Beach Cleanup (see description below) AND International Coastal Cleanup day. 

The banner image is courtesy of Houston Audubon.


Wild About Houston: A Green Film Festival

Join CEC, the Houston GREEN Film SeriesRice Media Center, Armand Bayou Nature Center, Bayou Land Conservancy, and the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center on October 16, 2019, for “Wild About Houston: A Green Film Festival.” We will showcase local short films that tell environmental stories. Please watch the contenders on the CEC YouTube Channel, and give a thumbs up to your favorites to see them on the big screen. Submit a film for consideration via our Google Form. Secure a ticket today, or register to host an exhibit table, via Eventbright.

Earth Day Houston

Earth Day Houston, part of the 50th worldwide observance, will be held at Discovery Green on Sunday, April 19, 2020. Opportunities to volunteer, sponsor, and exhibit will be available soon.

Interested in serving on the CEC Board or a Committee?

CEC is seeking individuals who might be interested in joining our board of directors in January 2020, or volunteering to serve on one of our committees starting this year. We are hosting information sessions for prospective board and committee members to learn more about the commitment and opportunities. Upcoming sessions include the evenings of September 23, and October 15. For more information (including directions to our top secret world headquarters), please email [email protected]

Scroll down to read notes from our member organizations and the community, or view the emailed version of the newsletter, which includes a green job listing.

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Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: September 16, 2019

Harris County sues Houston refinery over recent toxic gas release

(Houston Chronicle, Perla Trevizo, Updated 09/13/19. Photo by Michael Ciaglo.)

“A Houston refinery is facing its second environmental lawsuit in as many years after releasing more than 320,000 pounds of toxic gases last week …

Short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide can harm the respiratory system, making it difficult to breathe, especially for vulnerable populations such as children or people with asthma. And hydrogen sulfide is an extremely hazardous gas that could be deadly in large concentrations. And although 300,000 pounds, the amount of last week’s release, is considered a large one, it is not the company’s biggest.”


Houston Botanic Garden’s edible ‘rooms’ will lead visitors around the world in an acre

(Houston Chronicle, Molly Glentzer, Updated 09/12/19. Photo by Jon Shapley.)

“Construction is underway to create an entrance from Park Place and transform the heart of the 132-acre site … Several feature areas, each a different kind of living laboratory, will fill the curvy island.

While the 3-acre Global Garden highlights an array of plants from around the world, with a focus on conservation, the 1-acre Edible Garden will celebrate Houston’s cultural diversity in ways that inspire local vegetable, fruit and herb growers — even those who have less than an acre to play with and are blessed (or cursed, depending on one’s point of view) with shade.”


Trump administration rolls back clean-water rule for streams and wetlands

(Houston Chronicle, Perla Trevizo, Updated 09/16/19. Photo by Brandon Thibodeaux.)

“The Trump administration on Thursday rolled back an Obama-era clean water rule, a move that won’t directly affect major waterways like the Houston Ship Channel but that some environmentalists contend will put wetlands in the region’s coastal prairies and more than 140,000 miles of streams at risk.

“It is unconscionable that we’re jeopardizing the drinking water of one in three Americans — not to mention damaging the waters where we swim and fish and that wildlife calls home,” said Anna Farrell-Sherman with Environment Texas.”


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