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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Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: September 6, 2019

TCEQ’s dangerous trade off: jobs over clean air

(Houston Chronicle, Editorial Board, Updated 09/06/19. Photo by Dow Chemical.)

“Look at the agency’s decision to grant permits,over community objections, for a $10 billion ethane cracker plant just north of Corpus Christi. Levin said the nearby communities only asked for “modest improvements” to the permits, including additional air monitoring equipment inside the plant, but their request was denied. Not only is the commission doing a bad job enforcing environmental rules, it is making rules that are bad. Among them a proposed regulation that will expose Texans to higher levels of ethylene oxide, a cancer-causing flammable gas used to sterilize medical equipment and make plastic packaging.”


Metro supporters have nine weeks to sell bond plan to voters

(Houston Chronicle, Dug Begley, Updated 09/03/19. Photo by Steve Gonzales.)

“Transit officials spent the past 18 months developing a plan to add $7.5 billion in new bus lines, rebuilt transit centers and rail expansion. They have nine weeks to sell it to voters. Officials are asking for voter approval to borrow $3.5 billion, paid back by future sales tax revenues from Metro’s 1 percent sales tax. Metro, based on its 2020 budget, will spend $6.7 million to educate voters on the long-range plan, another $1.8 million for public engagement and $800,000 on legal expenses related to the plan.”


Report: Plastics industry driving pollution

(Houston Chronicle, Perla Trevizo and Erin Douglas, Updated 09/05/19. Photo by Jon Shapley.)

“The Environmental Integrity Project identified 90 plants that either make plastics or their ingredients in the Houston and Port Arthur area and, using state data, found that in 2017 the plants emitted 55,704 tons of potentially health-damaging air pollutants. More than $140 billion in new petrochemical capacity has been planned or added in the Gulf Coast region since 2010, according to the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade group. The Baytown facility has violated the Clean Air Act for the last three years, according to Environmental Protection Agency data. The TCEQ declined to comment in advance of the public release of the EIP report.”


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Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: August 19, 2019

Corps revises coastal barrier proposal, addressing environmental concerns

(Houston Chronicle, Nick Powell, Updated 08/19/19. Photo by Guiseppe Barranco.)

“A more environmentally-friendly gate across the mouth of Galveston Bay and a new alignment for a “ring barrier” protecting Galveston are among several revisions made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to a coastal barrier proposal for the Houston-Galveston region. Some environmentalists are skeptical of the Corps’ estimated water flow reduction from the new gate design …

The transparent, incremental approach has pleased coastal residents, particularly after the initial backlash to the Corps’ original proposal last year. “


Doctors unaware of where their patients live impacts care

(Houston Chronicle, Todd Ackerman, Updated 08/13/19. Photo by Brett Coomer.)

“Family physicians have little idea where their patients actually live, according to a new study, and that’s a major shortcoming given recent evidence showing the health impact of a person’s environment.

“The idea of thinking about where patients live is radical because we’re not trained to ask for that information,” Dr. Winston Liaw, chair of the department of health systems and population health at UH’s College of Medicine,  said in a statement. “We need to get providers to integrate geography into their practice data and get them thinking about the health needs of specific communities,” Liaw said. “


Industry-led initiative’s data shows progress in tackling emissions

(Houston Chronicle, Matthew Todd and Vanessa Ryan, Updated 08/15/19. Photo by Carolyn Van Houten .)

“America’s natural gas and oil companies are executing multiple initiatives to reduce our environmental footprint while meeting demand for affordable energy. The trends are positive … In Texas, methane emissions relative to production in the Eagle Ford basin have been reduced by 65 percent while production has increased 130 percent …

The Environmental Partnership, launched one year ago, harnesses those individual environmental efforts into one groundbreaking collaborative project.



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