Tag Archives: air quality

Sierra Club tells TCEQ to scrap their emissions inventory for State Implementation Plan at Public Hearing in Houston

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In a sparsely attended public hearing this week, Sierra Club’s Brandt Mannchen told the TCEQ that their proposed Emissions Inventory for the eight-hour ozone State Implementation Plan was grossly inadequate — particularly on “area” sources like oil and gas drilling and dry cleaners and emissions from the ports — and that it was impossible for the public to recreate the numbers. The TCEQ is required to submit a 2011 Emissions Inventory as part of the State Implementation Plan for the Eight-Hour Ozone standard of 75 parts per million. Both the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria area and the Dallas-Fort Worth area are considered “non-attainment” for ozone because they consistently violate those standards. Other cities like Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Tyler-Longview-Marshall have also violated the standard on occasion though not enough to be considered non-attainment.

The 2011 EI is important because it establishes the baseline by which TCEQ must show how it will reduce emissions of the pollutants — nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds – that create ground-level ozone pollution. In addition to the EI itself, the state must list regulations which will help limit emissions and if necessary develop additional regulatory and voluntary controls to show the state will meet the health-based standards. Getting the EI right – as Brandt mentioned in his comments – is essential. The Lone Star Chapter is working with our local Houston Regional Group and Dallas and Fort Worth regional groups to submit comments on the EI by the January 27th deadline.

Despite the stakes, Mannchen was only joined only by two other Sierra Club members and a smattering of others — none of whom spoke.  Among other issues raised by Mannchen was the failure of the EI to even consider the impact of emissions from outside the non-attainment areas — including large coal-fired power plants and the thousands of oil and gas facilities in the Eagle Ford, and Haynes areas which can impact ozone formation; the use of old 2009 data to generate numbers for a 2011 Emissions Inventory; and poor calculation of emissions from maritime vessels in the Houston Port.

Tomorrow, those in the Dallas-Fort Worth area get their chance to speak, January 16th.

Meeting is in Arlington on Thursday, January 16th at 2 PM at the Arlington City Hall Building in the Council Chambers (101 w. Abrams Street). For information about the proposed EI and related documents, check out this TCEQ Hot Topics page. 

Even as TCEQ develops this EI and the SIP, the EPA is actively considering lowering the ozone standard to between 65 and 74 from the current 75 parts per billion. This could have a profound effect in Texas, forcing communities from Laredo to San Antonio to Tyler to develop more robust controls.

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Speak out at the EPA Hearing in Dallas!

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Tired of not having a say about the carbon emissions companies are putting into the air that’s affecting our climate? Frustrated because you never have opportunities to tell the government how you feel about current environmental policy?

 

Texas is the country’s leading coal consumer and has some of the dirtiest coal-powered plants in the nation. Emissions that are released by coal power plants have a significant impact on changes in climate. Even a 1 or 2 degree change could reduce current crops by 5-15% through droughts, increase flooding by up to 10%, decrease stream flows by 5-10% in river basins, and increase wildfires by up to 4 times! 

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With climate change influencing our daily lives, it’s time to speak up!

 

The Environmental Protection Agency will be holding a public hearing on November 7th, 2013 in Dallas to discuss carbon pollution regulation standards for power plants. This hearing will take place on the first floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library at 1515 Young Street from 10 am to 3 pm.

 

A total of 11 public hearings like the one in Dallas place were scheduled all over the country to gain public feedback, but 2 in Boston and Philadelphia were cancelled due to the government shut down. This public feedback from the hearings will be taken into consideration as the EPA prepares its proposal that is scheduled to be ready by June 2014.

 

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Registration for this event can be found at:

http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/public-listening-session-registration

 

This is your chance to tell the government and others your opinion on climate change disruption, and how we should be addressing carbon pollution standards. The Listening Session at the EPA hearing will allow you to tell the EPA how you want to take action on carbon pollution. Take a stand, speak up, sign up, and then head on over to Dallas!

Texas is the best (in AMTRAK ridership increases in the central U.S.)!

How would you like to travel from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City in just over four hours–all while getting some work done or putting your feet up for an early start to your vacation? Then hop aboard the Heartland Flyer!

You’ll be in very good company: this route has had the largest ridership increases in the entire central U.S.! Whether it’s avoiding the hassle of airports or the highway, rail’s popularity is increasing. Taking the train reduces roadway congestion and has a lower impact on air quality than driving or flying.

Straight from AMTRAK’s press release:

Leading the ridership increase in the Midwest during the first half of FY 2012 vs. the same period in FY 2011 is the Chicago-St. Louis corridor served by Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle, with a combined ridership gain of 10 percent. The highest percentage hike in  the Central U.S. is a 10.6 percent increase in ridership on the Heartland Flyer (Oklahoma City – Fort Worth.) Both routes are the subject of new technology deployments, with demonstrations of  110 mph Lincoln Service trains planned for this fall and a new train control system installed on the Heartland Flyer.

Here’s the Heartland Flyer pulling the 40th anniversary AMTRAK car last year:

Kari Banta, Transportation Associate

Press Event in Houston: Study Predicts More Unhealthy Air for Houstonians if Proposed White Stallion Coal Plant Built

Things are gaining momentum in Houston.  The results of a pollution study are in, conducted by Dr. Tammy Thompson, postdoctoral associate from the MIT Joint Program for the Science and Policy of Global Change.

This report studied how the pollution from White Stallion Energy Station will make it even harder for Houston to have clean air, and how residents with lung disease will have one more source of breathing problems.  Even those without lung disease are at risk, since coal is a dirty source of energy and leaves its mark in our air.

Texas Sierra Club will have a press conference detailing the findings of the report, at Houston City Hall on Tuesday, July 19, 10:00 a.m. We’re very excited to have Council Member Gonzalez, Council Member Jones, Dr. Thompson and Dr. Stuart Abramson, M.D., as speakers.

Everyone is invited and urged to come out and show their support in our fight against coal, which destroys ecosystems, water systems, and threatens our right to clean air.  Houston already has a bad reputation for dirty air, and simply cannot make room for another source of air pollution.  Join us on Tuesday, July 19th, 10am at Houston City Hall- look for the HUGE inflatable inhaler!

WHAT:        Sierra Club releases a report titled, “White Stallion’s potential impact on Houston Air Quality” at a PRESS CONFERENCE

WHO:  Houston Vice Mayor Pro Tem, City Council Member Ed Gonzalez

Houston City Council Member Jolanda “Jo” Jones

Dr. Tammy M Thompson, MIT Joint Program for the Science and Policy of Global Change

Dr. Stuart Abramson, member of The Leadership Council for the American Lung Association of the Plains-Gulf Region, Houston area,board-certified allergist/immunologist and asthma specialist

Lydia Avila, Conservation Organizer, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign

WHEN:                    Tuesday, July 19, 10:00 AM

WHERE:   Hermann Square Reflection Pool, 901 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002, Houston City

Email kat.m.herrera@gmail.com for more information!

Houston City Council Members Support White Stallion Fight.

White Stallion is a proposed coal fired power plant that would be located in Bay City. Residents of Houston are taking notice because they would experience the negative effects being the closest large city. Houston Mayor Annise Parker wrote a letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers asking them to not grant White Stallion the necessary 404 permit until they perform a thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). White Stallion claims that they don’t need to perform an EIS. It is very important for them to perform an EIS so we have all the facts and know how dumping out multiple harmful chemicals will effect the environment around the plant. 

There have been five members of the Houston City Council who have joined Mayor Parker by writing letters to the US Army Corps of Engineers asking that an Environmental Impact Statement be done. The following City Council Members have written these letters: Jolanda Jones (At Large 5), Ed Gonzalez of District H, James Rodriguez of District I, Stephen Costello (At Large 1), and Melissa Noriega (At Large 3). We would like to thank these City Counsel Members and urge you to do that same.

Ways That You Can Take Action

  • ·You can join Mayor Parker and the City Counsel members by writing a letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers asking them not to grant the 404 Permit.
  • ·If you don’t see the name of your City Counsel Member ask them to join their colleagues by writing a letter the US Army Corps of Engineers against granting White Stallion a 404 Permit.
  • ·Sign up to volunteer for White Clouds NOT White Stallion because every volunteer can make a difference. Please email Kat Herrera at kat.m.herrera@gmail.com if you can help out.
– Sean Wicks, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Intern

Houston simply cannot afford a new source of air pollution.

According to the American Lung Association, Houston has one of the poorest air qualities in the nation. It’s no secret that Houston has refineries next door to neighborhoods along the ship channel. Within these communities, entire families live and their children go to school breathing air ridden with all kinds of pollutants.  The ALA estimates there to be more than 96,000 children at risk for pediatric asthma, based on recent census data. Could this be because Harris County has such unhealthy air? The ALA gave Harris County an “F” grading, based on annual average ozone levels.

Businesses and refineries that emit pollutants in the Houston area have rarely stayed under the EPA limit, if at all.  In neighboring Matagorda County the potential for air pollution emitted by the proposed White Stallion coal-fired power plant will make it harder still for Houston to achieve clean air.  If this coal-fired power plant is allowed to become fully operational, the quality of air in Houston will have even more difficulty staying under federal limits.

In a health impact study conducted by MSB Energy Associates on the proposed White Stallion coal plant, emissions could add more than 400 cases of chronic bronchitis.  This pollution may exacerbate the asthma of about 13,000 who already live with the condition. The most chilling effect is that there will be 630 deaths directly attributed to the pollutants emitted by this coal plant. This could be the death of a parent, a caretaker, or a child.

Another startling number to look at is the health care costs of such a plant.  Although the plant will provide funding to Bay City’s schools, the total estimated cost of health care due to air pollutants is more than $5 billion!  Already in hard times, we as Texans simply cannot afford a new coal plant.

Houstonians, please contact Mayor Parker and urge her to continue her support for clean air.  Tell our mayor that we can’t afford a new coal plant, to say NO to White Stallion.

– Kat Herrera, Beyond Coal Intern

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Kat at kat.m.herrera@gmail.com.   

Thank you – Mayor Parker for a taking action on White Stallion

Yesterday Sierra Club members lined up at the Houston city council meeting to thank Mayor Parker for her leadership by writing a letter requesting an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed White Stallion coal plant.

If built – White Stallion would emit tons of toxic pollutants including greenhouse gases, ozone forming pollutants, mercury, lead, and more.  This would have a major impact on the Houston-Galveston area.  Below is a blog post talking more about the issue from Matt Tejada with Air Alliance Houston.

To read Mayor Parker’s letter – click here.

From Matthew Tejada, Ph. D – April 19th, 2011

Environmentalists across Texas would like to express our gratitude to Houston Mayor Annise Parker for joining forces with the Environmental Protection Agency, Texas Parks & Wildlife, the Bay City Port Authority, and other concerned agencies and local citizens in asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the right thing: Require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed White Stallion coal plant.

In a letter dated April 18, 2011, Mayor Parker asked for an EIS, expressing concern to the Corps that White Stallion’s proximity to the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria ozone non-attainment region would “put my city at greater risk for additional bad air days and put at risk the investment made by industries within this area to clean up our air.”

Mayor Parker also wrote: “Houston’s industries have put time and money into reducing our pollution. Allowing such a large new source of nitrogen oxide (which is a key component of ozone), mercury, dioxin, sulfur dioxide, and lead from White Stallion to be emitted so closely to this area should be examined through the EIS process.”

A similar request in the form of a resolution was put before Harris County Commissioners Court by County Attorney Vince Ryan this morning. The resolution was unfortunately tabled, but will hopefully be reconsidered and passed at the Commissioners Court agenda in two weeks.

Last month Texas environmentalists respectfully urged the Mayor and City Council in a Houston Chronicle editorial to help persuade the Corps to call for an EIS “as decisions made today could have a profound impact on lives tomorrow.” We truly appreciate Mayor Parker’s thoughtful attention to this matter, and sincerely hope that the Corps now heeds the collective call for a White Stallion Environmental Impact Statement.

–Posted by Eva Hernandez, Sierra Club