Houston Environmental News Update September 21, 2022

National Estuaries Week, The Quest for Environmental Justice, Run in the Park, National Electric Drive Week, Take Me Outdoors Houston, Green Jobs, and more

Dear Friends,

We’re in the midst of National Estuaries Week, which runs September 17-24. The goal of National Estuaries Week is to show members of Congress, federal agencies, and state and local governments the importance of America’s estuaries by showcasing the value they provide communities.

The Galveston Bay Estuary Program, CEC’s newest member organization, is one of two estuary programs in Texas and one of 28 National Estuary Programs in the country. GBEP is the lead organization in the region in sponsoring National Estuaries Week programs and events. GBEP is a non-regulatory program administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, charged with implementing the Galveston Bay Plan, with a mission to preserve Galveston Bay for generations to come. Learn more about GBEP here.

There are a few ways you can get involved in National Estuaries Week – host a clean up, restoration project, or other event at your local estuary. Be sure to register your event at the Restore America’s Estuaries Event Registration Page. Second, share your support for National Estuaries Week on social media using the hashtag #EstuariesWeek and #WadeIn while also tagging your members of Congress.

You can learn more about efforts to preserve and restore Galveston Bay at the Back the Bay website.

Some planned events include Houston Bird Week, continuing through September 24, a week of virtual and in-person events centered around our region’s birds and wildlife. See details in the Fall Bird Migration section below. There are also a variety of Volunteer Opportunities, which you can find below.

Top image: The Coastal Heritage Preserve, taken by Cynthia Clevenger for Galveston Bay Estuary Program


CEC NOTES


Tell us how we can improve the newsletter!

We recently launched a survey asking subscribers to “Houston Environmental News” what they like about it, and how we can improve it. If you haven’t already completed the survey, please fill it out today to let us know how we can improve the newsletter. Find the survey here.


Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

Join fellow environmental educators every other Friday morning for a quick check-in to collaborate. The next meeting is September 23, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Bring your coffee (or tea) and ideas for things that are working in your programs (or questions about things that are not). The Zoom call is hosted by regional board members from the Texas Association for Environmental Education. Email Alicia.Mein@pct3.hctx.net or cwilems@galvbay.org for Zoom link and any questions.


Virtually Wild! Texas Student Learning Programs

Region 4 Education Service Center partners with the Virtually Wild! Texas team to provide students with engaging and interactive TEKS-aligned virtual environmental education field trips that highlight careers in conservation. These free 45-minute programs are live, and teachers and students are encouraged to engage with natural resources professionals by asking questions. Topics vary by program and have included endangered species, animal adaptations, habitat exploration, wildlife crime investigations, and more! Public, private, homeschool, hospitals, and education sites are welcome to view. See program listings and register at esc4.net.

Deep in the Heart Learning Resources

Deep in the Heart Learning Resources, using videos from the recent full-length documentary, are now available to connect students to Texas’s unique environments, inspire awe in the natural beauty of our state, and lead to actions that support conservation. Each video includes 4 TEKS and NGSS-aligned lessons for K-12 teachers and students. Lessons include directions for the teacher, student documents in English and Spanish, and English and Spanish PowerPoint files. The lessons are aligned with the 2020/2021 revised Science TEKS. Learn more and download the resources at deepintheheartwildlife.com.


Other opportunities:


Please scroll down to read about public engagement opportunities and notes from our member organizations and the community.


OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT


EPA seeks input on new environmental justice-focused pollution prevention grant opportunity

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold two listening sessions to collect input on the development of a new grant opportunity made possible by the $100 million investment in the agency’s Pollution Prevention program from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The new grant opportunity will encourage businesses that are working in, or working with, underserved or overburdened communities to adopt P2 practices in a way that advances the Biden-Harris Administration’s environmental agenda. A listening session on September 29 is for all potential applicants and stakeholders. For both listening sessions, EPA is interested in understanding how these grants can be most accessible and useful to applicants. EPA will also seek additional insight into how funded projects can help businesses adopt P2 approaches to address environmental problems in underserved/overburdened communities.


Comment on Draft Regional Flood Plan

The San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group submitted the DRAFT Regional Flood Plan to the Texas Water Development Board on Aug. 1, 2022. The public is invited to provide feedback on the DRAFT Regional Flood Plan and learn more about flood risk, stormwater management, and flood mitigation projects by visiting sanjacintofloodplanning.org. An in-person open house will be held September 27, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the White Oak Conference Center, 7603 Antoine Drive. A virtual open house will be held September 29, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Learn more about the open houses at sanjacintofloodplanning.org.


Public Comment on Harris County Storm Conveyance Tunnels proposal

The Harris County Flood Control District is seeking public comment on the recently released Feasibility Study on the Countywide Large Diameter Tunnels for Stormwater Conveyance, a $30 billion, 133-mile system of 8 large underground tunnels to drain stormwater out of the county’s bayous and streams. Public comment will be accepted through September 30. The next phase of the project will include community meetings. Find more information, including the presentation slides and video of a public meeting held in June, at hcfcd.org.


Comment on Environmental Justice Scorecard

The White House Council on Environmental Quality is taking a next step in the development of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Environmental Justice Scorecard, a first-of-its-kind tool that will assess progress Federal agencies are making to advance environmental justice, including through the Justice40 Initiative. The draft framework for the Environmental Justice Scorecard, on which CEQ and the Office of Management and Budget are inviting feedback and comment, would assess the efforts that Federal agencies are taking toward reducing burdens and harms in communities; delivering benefits to communities; and centering justice in decision making. The public can submit comments on the Scorecard until Sunday, October 2, via the Federal Register.


San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group seeks Flood Districts voting member

The San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group is soliciting nominations for individuals
interested in becoming a voting-member to represent Flood Districts on the San Jacinto
Regional Flood Planning Group. Nominees who have strong affiliation or are endorsed by Flood Districts or Drainage Districts within Region 6 are encouraged to apply. Nominations will be accepted by mail and email to SanJacFldPG@eng.hctx.net until October 9. Mailing address: Claudia Garcia c/o SJRFPG Project Sponsor, Harris County Engineering Department, 1111 Fannin St., 12th Fl., Houston, TX 77002. Find the full solicitation at sanjacintofloodplanning.org.

Public meetings on Harris County bond propositions

On November 8, 2022, voters in Harris County will have the opportunity to vote on three propositions for the issuance of bonds totaling $1.2 billion. This bond package would provide funding for multiple categories, including public safety facilities, roads, drainage and transportation-related programs, and parks and trails. The County is collecting community input through meetings, online tools and comment submissions. This input will be shared with Harris County Precinct staff as they make decisions regarding future projects that could be funded through these bonds. A series of community engagement meetings is being held through October 20 to share information on the bond and gather input from the community. Find the full schedule of meetings and information about other ways to provide input at harriscounty2022bond.org.


Learn about additional public comment opportunities at cechouston.org.


Continue reading

Houston Environmental News Update September 14, 2022

Houston Bird Week, Climate Fresk, Finding the Money, Mapping & Glaciers, Tree Giveaway, Horticulture Seminar, Wildscapes Workshop, Green Jobs, and more

Dear Friends,

The fall migratory bird season is in full swing, and once again Houston Audubon is celebrating with Houston Bird Week, which runs from Saturday, September 17 through Saturday, September 24, with a mix of in-person and virtual events.

The annual Bird Week was started in 2019 by Houston Audubon’s inaugural Young Professionals Advisory Council to commemorate the organization’s 50th birthday. Bird Week is “a celebration of the important role Houston plays in the journey of billions of migratory birds and the everyday lives of our resident birds. In addition to Houston’s vital location along the Gulf of Mexico, the growing popularity of planting native plants, restoring prairies, bird-friendly education programs, and Houston’s Lights Out for Birds program were among the many efforts and programs that gained Houston the Bird City designation in 2020.”

This year’s activities start with a Kick-Off Party at Sawyer Ice House. The week includes a host of events around the region, including bird surveys, bird walks, activities that combine birding with biking and boating, volunteer beach and park clean-ups, trivia contests, photography classes and photo shoots, happy hours, chats by partnering organizations, a night of stories, bingo games, and many more. Many of the events are family-friendly. Find the full listing of events at houstonaudubon.org. A few selected events and others related to the migration can be found in the “Fall Bird Migration” section below.


CEC NOTES


Climate Fresk – Learn about climate change through an interactive game

On September 20, from 6-9 p.m., CEC, Central City Co-Op, Blackwood Educational Land Institute, and the Climate Fresk organization will host a workshop where participants will learn the facts of climate change through a playful and scientifically serious game. In just three hours, the collaborative workshop will teach you the fundamental science behind climate change and empower you to take action. The event will be held at POST Houston. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.


Tell us how we can improve the newsletter!

We recently launched a survey asking subscribers to “Houston Environmental News” what they like about it, and how we can improve it. If you haven’t already completed the survey, please fill it out today to let us know how we can improve the newsletter. Find the survey here.


Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

Join fellow environmental educators every other Friday morning for a quick check-in to collaborate. The next meeting is September 9, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Bring your coffee (or tea) and ideas for things that are working in your programs (or questions about things that are not). The Zoom call is hosted by regional board members from the Texas Association for Environmental Education. Email Alicia.Mein@pct3.hctx.net or cwilems@galvbay.org for Zoom link and any questions.


Virtually Wild! Texas Student Learning Programs

Region 4 Education Service Center partners with the Virtually Wild! Texas team to provide students with engaging and interactive TEKS-aligned virtual environmental education field trips that highlight careers in conservation. These free 45-minute programs are live, and teachers and students are encouraged to engage with natural resources professionals by asking questions. Topics vary by program and have included endangered species, animal adaptations, habitat exploration, wildlife crime investigations, and more! Public, private, homeschool, hospitals, and education sites are welcome to view. See program listings and register at esc4.net.

Deep in the Heart Learning Resources

Deep in the Heart Learning Resources, using videos from the recent full-length documentary, are now available to connect students to Texas’s unique environments, inspire awe in the natural beauty of our state, and lead to actions that support conservation. Each video includes 4 TEKS and NGSS-aligned lessons for K-12 teachers and students. Lessons include directions for the teacher, student documents in English and Spanish, and English and Spanish PowerPoint files. The lessons are aligned with the 2020/2021 revised Science TEKS. Learn more and download the resources at deepintheheartwildlife.com.


Other opportunities:


Please scroll down to read about public engagement opportunities and notes from our member organizations and the community.


OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT


Texas Commission on Environmental Quality seeks feedback on Solid Waste Management Plans

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is providing an opportunity for informal public comment through Tuesday, September 20, on the regional solid waste management plans developed by the 24 regional councils of governments, including the Houston-Galveston Area Council. To view the draft plans and provide comments, visit tceq.texas.gov.



Toxics Release Inventory Virtual Conference

On Sept. 20-21 from noon-3:30 p.m. EDT, the EPA will host a virtual event on pollution prevention, environmental justice and more. The event will feature speakers from EPA, universities, local governments, industry and communities. There will be presentations on assessing and prioritizing opportunities for advancing pollution prevention at facilities; innovative Toxic Release Inventory data uses by companies, state governments, and students; using Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) modeling results to identify communities with potential environmental justice concerns; and the TRI Toxics Tracker and other resources for communities. Attendees will also have a chance to share feedback about TRI and ask questions of program experts. For more information and to register, visit epa.gov.


EPA seeks input on new environmental justice-focused pollution prevention grant opportunity

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold two listening sessions to collect input on the development of a new grant opportunity made possible by the $100 million investment in the agency’s Pollution Prevention program from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The new grant opportunity will encourage businesses that are working in, or working with, underserved or overburdened communities to adopt P2 practices in a way that advances the Biden-Harris Administration’s environmental agenda. A listening session on September 21 will seek input from Tribes on this new grant opportunity. Another listening session on September 29 is for all potential applicants and stakeholders. For both listening sessions, EPA is interested in understanding how these grants can be most accessible and useful to applicants. EPA will also seek additional insight into how funded projects can help businesses adopt P2 approaches to address environmental problems in underserved/overburdened communities.


Comment on Draft Regional Flood Plan

The San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group submitted the DRAFT Regional Flood Plan to the Texas Water Development Board on Aug. 1, 2022. The public is invited to provide feedback on the DRAFT Regional Flood Plan and learn more about flood risk, stormwater management, and flood mitigation projects by visiting sanjacintofloodplanning.org. An in-person open house will be held September 27, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the White Oak Conference Center, 7603 Antoine Drive. A virtual open house will be held September 29, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Learn more about the open houses at sanjacintofloodplanning.org.


Public Comment on Harris County Storm Conveyance Tunnels proposal

The Harris County Flood Control District is seeking public comment on the recently released Feasibility Study on the Countywide Large Diameter Tunnels for Stormwater Conveyance, a $30 billion, 133-mile system of 8 large underground tunnels to drain stormwater out of the county’s bayous and streams. Public comment will be accepted through September 30. The next phase of the project will include community meetings. Find more information, including the presentation slides and video of a public meeting held in June, at hcfcd.org.


Comment on Environmental Justice Scorecard

The White House Council on Environmental Quality is taking a next step in the development of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Environmental Justice Scorecard, a first-of-its-kind tool that will assess progress Federal agencies are making to advance environmental justice, including through the Justice40 Initiative. The draft framework for the Environmental Justice Scorecard, on which CEQ and the Office of Management and Budget are inviting feedback and comment, would assess the efforts that Federal agencies are taking toward reducing burdens and harms in communities; delivering benefits to communities; and centering justice in decision making. The public can submit comments on the Scorecard until Sunday, October 2, via the Federal Register.


San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group seeks Flood Districts voting member

The San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group is soliciting nominations for individuals
interested in becoming a voting-member to represent Flood Districts on the San Jacinto
Regional Flood Planning Group. Nominees who have strong affiliation or are endorsed by Flood Districts or Drainage Districts within Region 6 are encouraged to apply. Nominations will be accepted by mail and email to SanJacFldPG@eng.hctx.net until October 9. Mailing address: Claudia Garcia c/o SJRFPG Project Sponsor, Harris County Engineering Department, 1111 Fannin St., 12th Fl., Houston, TX 77002. Find the full solicitation at sanjacintofloodplanning.org.


Learn about additional public comment opportunities at cechouston.org.


Continue reading

Houston Environmental News Update September 7, 2022

Environmental Data, Creation Care 101, Neches River Rally, Heat in Houston, Green Jobs, and more

Dear Friends,

Data. It’s everywhere, and it comes at us fast and furious.

The environmental community is no exception, and in fact, reliable data is extremely important in helping us meet and solve the most pressing environmental concerns of our day. The trick is knowing where to find it.

Here in the greater Houston-Galveston region, there’s no shortage of organizations that are involved in providing good data on the environment. Probably the most comprehensive data sets come by way of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, our region’s council of governments. You can check out their Interactive Web Applications, which have subheadings for Environment, Water Quality, Land Use, Transportation, and more. Find the whole set at h-gac.com.

The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), whose stated mission is ” to provide independent analysis on energy, air, and water issues to people seeking scientific answers and to operate as a research hub finding solutions for a sustainable future,” makes their research available to the public at harcresearch.org. Categories include Air, Energy, Water, and Climate. HARC also partners with the Galveston Bay Foundation to produce the annual Galveston Bay Report Card.

In August 2020, the Harris Heat Action Team’s volunteer community scientists fanned out across the Harris County area for a one-day heat mapping project. A story map of the results can be found at h3at.org.

Bayou City Waterkeeper, which works to protect water quality, preserve and restore wetlands, and support resilient communities in the region, has recently completed mapping projects on mapping sewage overflows, mapping wetlands, and more. Find all of their work at bayoucitywaterkeeper.org.

Air Alliance Houston, which works to reduce the public health impacts from air pollution and advance environmental justice, has created a community air monitoring network. Learn more about it and find their reports at airalliancehouston.org.

The Texas branch of Physicians for Social Responsibility provides reports on Climate and Health at texaspsr.org.

Image: Regional Conservation Framework Tool, via Houston-Galveston Area Council


CEC NOTES


Member Organization Spotlight: Houston Advanced Research Center

This week, the Houston Advanced Research (HARC) celebrates its 40th anniversary. Founded by fracking pioneer George Mitchell, the organization has a mission “to provide independent analysis on energy, air, and water issues to people seeking scientific answers and to operate as a research hub finding solutions for a sustainable future.” They are marking the occasion on Wednesday, September 7, with a virtual celebration featuring a keynote talk by climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. See details and registration in “Coalition & Community Notes” below.


Tell us how we can improve the newsletter!

We recently launched a survey asking subscribers to “Houston Environmental News” what they like about it, and how we can improve it. If you haven’t already completed the survey, please fill it out today to let us know how we can improve the newsletter. Find the survey here.

Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

Join fellow environmental educators every other Friday morning for a quick check-in to collaborate. The next meeting is September 9, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Bring your coffee (or tea) and ideas for things that are working in your programs (or questions about things that are not). The Zoom call is hosted by regional board members from the Texas Association for Environmental Education. Email Alicia.Mein@pct3.hctx.net or cwilems@galvbay.org for Zoom link and any questions.


Virtually Wild! Texas Student Learning Programs

Region 4 Education Service Center partners with the Virtually Wild! Texas team to provide students with engaging and interactive TEKS-aligned virtual environmental education field trips that highlight careers in conservation. These free 45-minute programs are live, and teachers and students are encouraged to engage with natural resources professionals by asking questions. Topics vary by program and have included endangered species, animal adaptations, habitat exploration, wildlife crime investigations, and more! Public, private, homeschool, hospitals, and education sites are welcome to view. See program listings and register at esc4.net.

Deep in the Heart Learning Resources

Deep in the Heart Learning Resources, using videos from the recent full-length documentary, are now available to connect students to Texas’s unique environments, inspire awe in the natural beauty of our state, and lead to actions that support conservation. Each video includes 4 TEKS and NGSS-aligned lessons for K-12 teachers and students. Lessons include directions for the teacher, student documents in English and Spanish, and English and Spanish PowerPoint files. The lessons are aligned with the 2020/2021 revised Science TEKS. Learn more and download the resources at deepintheheartwildlife.com.


Other opportunities:


Please scroll down to read about public engagement opportunities and notes from our member organizations and the community.


OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT


Listening Session on New Pollution Prevention Grant Opportunity under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

On September 8, beginning at noon Central Time, EPA will host a virtual listening session on new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for a Pollution Prevention grant opportunity focused on increasing supply and demand for safer, environmentally preferable products, such as those certified by EPA’s Safer Choice program or identified by EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program. EPA wants to hear your thoughts to help inform the development of this grant opportunity. In the listening session, EPA will provide background on the grant opportunity and then lead a discussion to get feedback. To register, visit zoomgov.com.


Texas Commission on Environmental Quality seeks feedback on Solid Waste Management Plans

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is providing an opportunity for informal public comment through Tuesday, September 20, on the regional solid waste management plans developed by the 24 regional councils of governments, including the Houston-Galveston Area Council. To view the draft plans and provide comments, visit tceq.texas.gov.



Toxics Release Inventory Virtual Conference

On Sept. 20-21 from noon-3:30 p.m. EDT, the EPA will host a virtual event on pollution prevention, environmental justice and more. The event will feature speakers from EPA, universities, local governments, industry and communities. There will be presentations on assessing and prioritizing opportunities for advancing pollution prevention at facilities; innovative Toxic Release Inventory data uses by companies, state governments, and students; using Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) modeling results to identify communities with potential environmental justice concerns; and the TRI Toxics Tracker and other resources for communities. Attendees will also have a chance to share feedback about TRI and ask questions of program experts. For more information and to register, visit epa.gov.


EPA seeks input on new environmental justice-focused pollution prevention grant opportunity

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold two listening sessions to collect input on the development of a new grant opportunity made possible by the $100 million investment in the agency’s Pollution Prevention program from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The new grant opportunity will encourage businesses that are working in, or working with, underserved or overburdened communities to adopt P2 practices in a way that advances the Biden-Harris Administration’s environmental agenda. A listening session on September 21 will seek input from Tribes on this new grant opportunity. Another listening session on September 29 is for all potential applicants and stakeholders. For both listening sessions, EPA is interested in understanding how these grants can be most accessible and useful to applicants. EPA will also seek additional insight into how funded projects can help businesses adopt P2 approaches to address environmental problems in underserved/overburdened communities.




Public Comment on Harris County Storm Conveyance Tunnels proposal

The Harris County Flood Control District is seeking public comment on the recently released Feasibility Study on the Countywide Large Diameter Tunnels for Stormwater Conveyance, a $30 billion, 133-mile system of 8 large underground tunnels to drain stormwater out of the county’s bayous and streams. Public comment will be accepted through September 30. The next phase of the project will include community meetings. Find more information, including the presentation slides and video of a public meeting held in June, at hcfcd.org.


Comment on Environmental Justice Scorecard

The White House Council on Environmental Quality is taking a next step in the development of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Environmental Justice Scorecard, a first-of-its-kind tool that will assess progress Federal agencies are making to advance environmental justice, including through the Justice40 Initiative. The draft framework for the Environmental Justice Scorecard, on which CEQ and the Office of Management and Budget are inviting feedback and comment, would assess the efforts that Federal agencies are taking toward reducing burdens and harms in communities; delivering benefits to communities; and centering justice in decision making. The public can submit comments on the Scorecard until Sunday, October 2, via the Federal Register.


Comment on Draft Regional Flood Plan

The San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group submitted the DRAFT Regional Flood Plan to the Texas Water Development Board on Aug. 1, 2022. The public is invited to provide feedback on the DRAFT Regional Flood Plan and learn more about flood risk, stormwater management, and flood mitigation projects by visiting sanjacintofloodplanning.org.


Learn about additional public comment opportunities at cechouston.org.


Continue reading