Houston Environmental News Update May 26, 2015

CEC sincerely hopes you made it through the rains safely.


  1. Photographer Jim Olive: How to Get Your Photos on the Front Page.

    Have you struggled to get your environmental story on the front page of the newspaper?  Do you have the tools necessary to make it happen?  Environmental non-profits face the challenge of money, manpower and the right material  – all in sync – to get the media’s attention.  Join us June 23rd, 6:30-8:00pm when CEC member Jim Olive will share how his environmental photography consistently gets published.  From Time magazine to the Galveston County Daily Press; from oil spills to earthquakes, Jim’s work over five decades continues to tell a compelling environmental story.  To view Jim’s qualifications and portfolio, visit www.stockyard.com and Facebook: Christmas Bay Foundation.


    Start with enviro-networking at 6:30pm, followed by the program from 7:00pm-8:00pm. Join us in the Havana Room, El Meson, 2425 University Boulevard in the Rice Village. linger for dinner with other like-minded souls after the event.

    Please register on Eventbrite as the room will fill up fast.  Suggested donation of $10 for members, $15 for non-members, cash bar. Because we expect to see out, members have three days head start before registration opens for non-members on Friday.

  2. MCEC Events–Save the Dates
    • July 9, 2015: Happy Birthday CEC open house
    • Late Summer 2015: Environmental Forum for Contested At-Large City of Houston Council races. Please contact rachel@cechouston.org if you would like to be a planning or promotional partner for the event.
    • November 17, 2015: CEC holiday open house
    • January 28, 2016: Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour
    • March 24, 2016: CEC’s Greater Houston Environmental Summit


  1. Environmental Enforcement Roundtable: Dealing with Abandoned Buildings and Substandard Structures. Do you have problems in your community with abandoned or substandard structures and the illegal dumping that likely comes with them? Would you like to learn more about the options available to you in handling them? Then join H-GAC to hear from the City of Houston’s Department of Neighborhoods as they walk through their process.This Environmental Enforcement Roundtable will be held on May 28, 2015, 10am-noon, at the H-GAC offices. For more information or to RSVP please contact Erin Livingston at 832-681-2525 or erin.livingston@h-gac.com. More at www.h-gac.com.
  2. Addressing Conflict with Deer in Our Communities – An Interactive and Engaging Workshop. White-tailed deer are a valuable natural resource enjoyed by many across Texas. However, when deer numbers escalate and they become overabundant, deer can threaten wildlife and plant diversity and cause emotionally charged conflict within communities. There are very real economic, cultural, health, and ecological concerns. Texas communities regularly confront these issues. Come out to Texas State University on May 29, 2015, for a workshop that addresses these topics. This workshop will allow attendees to learn from the experiences of others and hear from nationally recognized experts currently working with overabundant deer issues. The cost is $55, which includes lunch. Register at www.texas-wildlife.org.
  3. LUNG FORCE Walk – Houston. Come out for the LUNG FORCE Walk on May 30, 2015, at the University of Houston (Central Campus). With your participation and help, the LUNG FORCE Walk will make a difference in lives that desperately need it. Register today, because now is the time to raise our voices against lung cancer—and for lung health. Participation in LUNG FORCE Walks is free. However, LUNG FORCE is a fundraising event and all participants are encouraged to raise funds. Kick off your fundraising by making a personal donation of $25 toward your fundraising goal of raising a minimum of $100.Learn more and register at http://action.lung.org.
  4. Bike Ride & Open House Kickoff. Come out on May 30, 2015, 9am-1pm at Ensemble Theater, for a fun-filled Bike Ride and Open House that will include a bike tour, raffle prizes, and activities to hear about your vision and goals for biking in Houston. There will be presentations in which Houston Bike Plan team members will present an update and gather your ideas for how to improve cycling in Houston. There will also be hour-long educational bike rides. More about the bike ride and open house: www.facebook.com. This event marks the launch of the Houston Bike Plan effort. There will be four additional community meetings held in the evenings throughout the month of June at various locations around the city, where the project team will present information on the Houston Bike Plan project and existing conditions and solicit input from the public on their vision for biking in Houston. Dates, times, and locations are listed below:
    1. Houston Bike Plan Public Meeting: June 4, 2015, 6-8pm at Kashmere Garden Multi-Purpose Center
    2. Houston Bike Plan Public Meeting: June 9, 2015, 6-8pm at Palm Center Business Technology Center
    3. Houston Bike Plan Public Meeting: June 16, 2015, 6-8pm at HCC Memorial City Performing Arts Center
    4. Houston Bike Plan Public Meeting: June 23, 2015, 6-8pm at Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center
  5. Transition Houston Meeting: Metro’s System Reimaging. You won’t want to miss Transition Houston’s meeting on June 2, 2015, 7-9pm at Live Oak Friends Meeting House (note the new meeting location)! Houston’s Metro will be presenting the new Bus Network / System Reimaging which is an innovative system of routes designed on where people want to go today, and tomorrow. The routes work together to create a network, with better connections, weekend service and much more. www.transitionhouston.org
  6. Summer Salon Series – “Minority Report: Why So Few Vote; When Will Hispanic Political Influence Reflect Demographic Reality.” The Center’s Summer Salons are a series of casual breakfast conversations, bringing big-picture thinkers and regional experts together with broader audiences, for an extended deep-dive discussion of our Indicators research, with a focus on the next steps for creating a sustainable and competitive Houston. There will be three events over the summer. The first event, “Minority Report: Why So Few Vote; When Will Hispanic Political Influence Reflect Demographic Reality,” will be held on June 3, 2015, 7:30-9:30am at The Junior League of Houston, Inc. The cost is $25 per person and includes a full breakfast buffet. Learn more and register at https://interland3.donorperfect.net.
  7. KPC Unplugged Adventure: Monarch Madness. Did you know that the Monarch is the state insect of Texas? Come learn about these fascinating fliers and take a butterfly hike on the prairie. You’ll even get to take home some monarch habitat – your very own milkweed plant! This KPC event will be held on June 6, 2015, 9-11am at the Indiangrass Preserve. The cost is $5 per person. More at www.katyprairie.org.
  8. Skimmers and Dancers and Darners, Oh My! with Bob Honig. Get your Arboretum Certificate of Achievement in Science & Nature certifying your successful completion of a Nature Revealed class! This class will cover dragonflies! Using local species as examples, you will learn about the life histories of these beautiful, fascinating, and easily observed animals including behavior, reproduction, and feeding. You’ll learn the answers to such questions as: Is it possible to breathe and poop from the same orifice? And what is the killer lip? Then you’ll get to go outside to see these fascinating insects in action. The class will be held on June 6, 2015, 9-11am. The cost is $20 for HANC members and $35 for nonmembers. More at http://houstonarboretum.org.
  9. World Oceans Day and 1% To Conserve Galveston Island™. The program, 1% To Conserve Galveston Island™, makes contributing to conservation efforts on the Island as easy as purchasing lunch or grabbing an item from your favorite shop. When customers visit a participating 1% to Conserve Galveston Island business beginning in June, they will be given the opportunity to provide a voluntary donation of one percent of their purchase to the program. All proceeds collected by participating businesses will go directly to 1% To Conserve Galveston Island. Funds will be used for conservation efforts and to create public access amenities for the enjoyment of Galveston’s natural treasures. To officially kickoff the program, Artist Boat will host a celebration on World Oceans Day, June 8, 2015, at the Galveston Island R. A. Apffel (East Beach) Pavilion from 9-11am. Learn more: Roll Out One Percent Celebration.
  10. Seabrook Rain Barrel Workshop. Galveston Bay Foundation’s Rain Barrel Program works to conserve water and reduce stormwater runoff, pollution, and bacteria entering Galveston Bay. Each workshop is a unique and personal experience hosted by GBF’s Water Quality Team in partnership with local organizations and cities. Workshops consist of a presentation on the environmental benefits of collecting rainwater and proper rain barrel installation instructions and tips. Registration is $30, which includes one, 35-gallon barrel + one connector kit, and admission to the workshop for two people. Workshop registrees can purchase a maximum of 2 barrels + 2 kits. The next rain barrel workshop will be held on June 13, 2015, 9:30-11:30am at the Seabrook Community House. Learn more and register at http://galvbay.org.
  11. Buffalo Bayou Park’s Grand Opening. Come celebrate the grand opening of Buffalo Bayou Park on Saturday, June 20, 2015! For this free, public event, BBP will highlight various destinations and amenities in the 160-acre park that stretches from Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street. Enjoy a day full of activities ranging from walking tours, lectures, children’s crafts, recreational opportunities, and programming that will showcase Houston’s diverse arts community, live music and food. Learn more at http://buffalobayou.org.
  12. 2015 H-GAC Basin Highlights Report. The 2015 H-GAC Basin Highlights Report has been released and can be found at www.h-gac.com. The report provides an overview of the current quality of the region’s surface waters and gives detailed looks at five specific waterbodies in the region: Cedar Bayou Tidal, Bastrop Bayou, West Fork San Jacinto River, East Fork San Jacinto River, and White Oak Bayou.


  1. Shale Gas & the Potential for U.S. Energy Independence – A Rational Middle Energy Series Panel Discussion. A decade ago, natural gas was perceived as an expensive resource with a dwindling supply. Now, with a technically recoverable reserve of 2,515 trillion cubic feet in the U.S. alone, and prices as low as $2.250/MMBtu, it has made a name for itself as an economically viable energy source that is cleaner than its counterparts. But with the environmental concerns about fracking, it remains unclear how long the natural gas boom will last. How will we balance a sustainable energy future? Come out on May 27, 2015, 7-8pm at The Junior League of Houston, for a film screening and panel discussion, moderated by Rational Middle Director and Producer, Gregory Kallenberg. Mr. Kallenberg previously directed and produced Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for an Energy Future, and has written for Esquire Magazine, and The New York TImes, among others. He has spoken about the future of energy at TEDx, Bucknell University’s Environmental Symposium on Shale Gas, and Rice University’s “Distinguished Speakers Series. Learn more at www.wachouston.org.
  2. 10th State of the Bay Symposium. The 10th State of the Bay Symposium will be held January 13-14, 2016 at the Moody Gardens Hotel and Convention Center in Galveston, Texas. The symposium theme is “20 Years of Successfully Preserving Galveston Bay.” The deadline for abstracts, posters, and panel discussions has been extended to June 1, 2015. Learn more at www.gbep.texas.gov.
  3. Public Meeting: 10 Proposed Early Restoration Gulf Projects. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (Trustees) released a draft plan today that proposes 10 early restoration projects across the Gulf states at an estimated cost of $134 million. This includes two proposals involving Texas, a $45 million sea turtle restoration project and a $20 million bird rookery islands restoration project. The Draft Phase IV Early Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessments (Draft Plan) is available for public review and comment through June 19, 2015. It is posted online at www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov. There will also be a series of meetings throughout the Gulf Coast that will begin with an interactive open house during which Trustee staff will be available to discuss project details. The open house will be followed by a formal presentation and opportunity for the public to provide comments to Trustee representatives. One of those meetings will be held at Texas A&M University at Galveston Seawolf Parkway on June 10, 2015, 6-9pm. Learn more at www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.
  4. Climate Change: Water as a Bridge to Mitigation and Adaptation. Beginning in the late 1980s, climate change issues were divided into two distinct policy categories: mitigation (carbon emissions reduction and sequestration) and adaptation (adjusting to the impacts of climate change). Climate change mitigation has faced challenging political obstacles, while adaptation has developed into an increasingly powerful operational framework centered on water management. However, these categories make little sense today. In the fourth talk in the Center for Energy Studies series on public policy and climate change, John H. Matthews, secretariat coordinator for the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, will discuss water as a bridge to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The event will be held on June 11, 2015, 12-1:30pm at James A. Baker III Hall, Rice University. Learn more and RSVP at www.bakerinstitute.org.
  5. Teacher Trainings: Down Under Out Yonder (DUOY) and Intracoastal Waterway Wetlands Expedition (IWWE). A DUOY coral reef ecology underwater workshop for educators will be held from July 11-15, 2015. This 5-day expedition includes a 2-day Corals to Classrooms workshop followed by three days of diving the coral reefs of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which harbors the northernmost coral reefs in the continental US, providing habitat for a variety of fish, turtles, and sharks. Participants return to their classrooms filled with innovative ideas for teaching biology, oceanography, geology, physical science, government, and environmental science. Another workshop, IWWE, a coastal habitat ecology workshop for educators, will be held from June 15-19, 2015. Cruise the estuaries of coastal Texas from the Louisiana border to Freeport by way of the Intracoastal Waterway during this five-day expedition. Along the way, participants explore diverse habitats as they learn about the natural and human threats to our living coast. Educators of all levels walk away from this experience with new knowledge and skills for educating students about coastal ecology (and economy). For more information, call 361-882-3939 or email info@gulfmex.org or visit http://www.gulfmex.org/education-training/duoy/.
  6. Houston Three By Three. Houston Three By Three is a program that includes three sessions with three speakers each who will discuss issues unique to the region, including innovative building skins created for hot-weather and high-wind environments, high performance facades, and the future face of Houston. The well rounded, informed dialogue will inform and inspire. This program includes the of the Facades+ 2-day conference into a quick-take morning forum with a local focus—Facades+AM—this time tailor-made for Texas and the Southwest region. Houston Three By Three will be held on June 18, 2015, at Hotel Icon. Learn more and register at http://am.facadesplus.com.
  7. Congressional Climate Message Day. On June 23, 2015, friends at Citizens’ Climate Lobby will be sending 900 volunteers to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, to lobby for legislation that prices carbon. You can help make their meetings a success by letting your representatives and senators know that their constituents support congressional action to address climate change. On June 22, 2015, you can participate by contacting Congress by phone and social media. Learn more at www.facebook.com.
  8. Additional Community Announcements
  9. TV: Texas Parks & Wildlife. Broadcast on KUHT Channel 8 at 3:00 PM each Saturday and on municipal access cable channels in Baytown, Deer Park, Houston, Nassau Bay, Pasadena, Seabrook, Sugar Land, and on HCC TV. More info on the TPWD website (* indicates a segment about the Houston area). For a preview, visit TPWD’s YouTube Page.
    • Texas Bass
    • Lone Star Land Steward: Bear Creek Ranch
    • Lake Arrowhead State Park
    • Bat Capital of the World
  10. Air Quality Forecast. http://www.tceq.texas.gov/airquality/monops/forecast_today.html. Houston Clean Air Network and Realtime Ozone Mapping: http://houstoncleanairnetwork.com.
    • May 26, 2015: Green–Good. Lower incoming background levels and moderate winds should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range.
    • May 27, 2015: Yellow–Moderate–PM2.5. A mix of African dust and smoke from agricultural burning in Mexico and Central America should spread across much of the state except for Northeast Texas, far West Texas, and the Panhandle, and could raise the daily PM2.5 AQI to “Moderate” levels over much of the affected area.
    • May 28, 2015: Green–Good. Moderate winds and lower incoming background levels should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range.
    • May 29, 2015: Green–Good. Moderate winds and lower incoming background levels should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range.

Back to top


Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: May 25, 2015


  1. Harris County in Crosshairs of Pollution Lawsuit Limits (Jim Malewitz – The Texas Tribune, 5/20/2015)
    “With Harris County in its crosshairs, the state Senate on Wednesday tentatively approved legislation that could make it tougher for Texas counties to sue big-time polluters. If finally passed, House Bill 1794 would notch another victory for a wide range of business groups in a legislative session that’s been kind to industry at the expense of environmentalists and advocates for local control. The proposal would set a five-year statute of limitations and cap payouts at about $2 million when counties sue companies that have fouled their water or air.”
  2. Plan to tap Lake Conroe for drinking water stirs conflict (Matthew Tresaugue – Houston Chronicle, 5/19/2015)
    With memories of a disappearing lake still fresh, residents are rallying against a plan to wean rapidly growing Montgomery County off groundwater by tapping the reservoir for drinking water, calling on officials to ‘Save the Lake.’ It was not too long ago that a punishing drought had lowered the lake by as many as 9 feet below normal, leaving several waterfront homeowners with unwanted beaches and unusable docks and local businesses without customers. Now several lakeside homeowners associations are circulating a petition asking the Conroe-based Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District to suspend its plan, set to take effect Jan. 1, while the potential consequences are studied further.”
  3. Air Alliance Houston and Milby High School conduct toxics monitoring (Adrian Shelley – AirCurrent News, 5/19/2015)
    “Recently, Air Alliance Houston joined forces with students from Milby High School to conduct air monitoring in east Houston. This effort is the latest project in a semester long partnership we have had with Jeff Stear, an Engineering Teacher (Lead) in the IPAA/PESA Petroleum Academy at Milby High School. All semester, Milby students in Mr. Stear’s class have learned about the refining industry and its impact on their health. In the Environmental Protection Agency’s new refinery air toxics rule, the agency has proposed to require that refineries begin measuring the amount of benzene that leaves their facilities. This so-called “fenceline” monitoring would be performed using a type of sampler known as a passive sorbent tube. The monitor is called “passive” because it simply sits and collects air that moves over it. This is in contrast to “active” monitoring technologies like UV-DOAS, which can measure for hundreds of compounds in real time. Monitoring for benzene is important. As the Milby High School students learned, benzene is a known human carcinogen that has significant public health impacts here in Houston. If students are exposed to benzene where they live or go to school, then their health is at risk.”


  • 24 May
    • Free Concert and Fireworks Mark Historic Opening
      of METRO’s Green and Purple Light-Rail Lines (Guidry News)
    • Texas House Approves TWIA Overhaul (Jim Malewitz – The Texas Tribune)
  • 22 May
  • 21 May
  • 20 May
    • Harris County in Crosshairs of Pollution Lawsuit Limits (Jim Malewitz – The Texas Tribune)
    • Animated map shows Houston mass transit on the move (John-Henry Perera – Houston Chronicle)
    • Houston Ranks Low In National Parks Survey (Syeda Hasan – Houston Public Media)
    • Scientists Say BP Spill Killed Dolphins, BP Says No It Didn’t (Dave Fehling – Houston Public Media)
    • Data App: Track Texas Reservoir Levels (Ryan Murphy and Kate Galbraith – The Texas Tribune)
    • Halliburton, BP resolve remaining issues over Deepwater Horizon disaster (Olivia Pulsinelli – Houston Business Journals)
  • 19 May
    • Air Alliance Houston and Milby High School conduct toxics monitoring (Adrian Shelley – AirCurrent News)
    • Plan to tap Lake Conroe for drinking water stirs conflict (Matthew Tresaugue – Houston Chronicle)
    • Stormy weather can’t dampen party spirit as Katy Prairie Conservancy bash brings in $200,000 (Shelby Hodge – CultureMap Houston)
    • Outgoing Houston Zoo CEO Discusses the State of the Zoo and the Return of Gorillas (Michael Hagerty – Houston Matters)
    • The White House is buzzing with plans to save the bees (Liz Core – Grist)
    • To fight bee decline, Obama proposes more land to feed bees (Seth Borenstein – Houston Chronicle)
    • Study: Lower than expected air pollutants detected at Marcellus drilling sites (Susan Phillips – StateImpact)
    • Texas Campaign for the Environment responds to Gov. Abbott signing HB 40 into law (Waxachietx Daily Light)
    • A Strange El Niño Is Bringing Rain To Texas (Mose Buchele – StateImpact)
    • Texas Governor Signs Bill That Makes Local Fracking Bans Illegal (Ari Phillips – Climate Progress)
    • Targeted drought funding builds on substantial drought relief efforts (USDA News)
    • Watch A Drone Save Texans From A Flash Flood (Kelsey D. Atherton – Popular Science)
    • FHWA announces 2015 Environmental Excellence Award recipients (Chris Hill – Better Roads)
  • 18 May
    • Climate change altering frequency, intensity of hurricanes (Science Daily)
    • How a sales-tax holiday for guns would hurt Texas state parks (Evelyn L. Merz – Houston Chronicle)
    • You bought it at a farmers’ market. But was it locally grown? (Pam Walker – Houston Chronicle)
    • Abbott Signs Law To Rein In Texas Cities That Try To Regulate Drilling (Dave Fehling – Houston Public Media)
    • Forty Miles From Houston: A Sustainable Subdivision In The Land Of Texas Oil & Gas (Dave Fehling – Houston Public Media)
    • Ban on fracking bans would do much more to cut local authority, critics say (Bill Dawson and Greg Harman – Texas Climate News)
    • Farmers are asking if El Niño is here to stay, and when will the rains end (Logan Hawkes – Southwest Farm Press)
    • Fact-checking Texas fracking, pollution, earthquakes (W. Gardner Selby – Austin American-Statesman)
    • Major Agreement Paves Way for New Transportation Solutions (Jo-Carolyn Goode)
    • The EPA Myth of “Clean Power” (Canada Free Press)
    • Wetlands continue to reduce nitrates (ASWM News)
    • Clean Water Act loophole corresponds to loss of wetland (ASWM)
    • 5 things to know in Texas energy this week (B. Candace Beeke – Houston Business Journal)
    • DOE analyzes Texas Clean Energy coal gasification project (Barry Cassell – Electric Light & Power)
    • Five U.S Cities Named ‘Most Water Wise’ (The Auto Channel)
    • Abbott Signs “Denton Fracking Bill” (Jim Malewitz – The Texas Tribune)
    • House passes bill to stop EPA water rule (Timothy Cama and Cristina Marcos – ASWM News)
  • 14 May
    • Bucket by bucket, drought fades in Dallas area, around state (Michael E. Young – The Dallas Morning News)
    • Texas Water District, USDA Partner to Show Producers Way to Use Water Wisely (USDA News)
  • 13 May
  • 12 May
    • Studies: Science-based response lacking in chemical disasters (Purdue University)
  • 6 May
    • EPA sets rules to protect from drinking water toxins (Jim Lynch – The Detroit News)
  • 5 May
    • EPA regulator says set to release key herbicide report, lauds biopesticides (Carey Gillam – Reuters)
  • 4 May
    • Horribly bleak study sees ’empty landscape’ as large herbivores vanish at startling rate (Fred Barbash and Justin Wm. Moyer – The Washington Post)