Houston Environmental News Update June 21, 2017

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.

I’m sure all of you know that Friday is United Nations Public Service Day. The UN Public Service Day celebrates the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlights the contribution of public service in the development process; recognizes the work of public servants, and encourages young people to pursue careers in the public sector.

We rely on public servants to preserve our environment and protect our quality of life, and we join the UN in celebrating them and their work.

CEC has been excited to have, over the past few years, a handful of amazing interns helping us review the work of some local public servants. Currently, summer intern Andrea Zamora is reviewing Houston City Council agendas for items pertaining to the environment, and will be reporting on agendas of the Texas Railroad Commission (whose June 27 meeting has been cancelled, and whose next commission meeting is scheduled for August). She’s taking over for Kelly Clifford, who has accepted a prestigious internship with a US Representative, but who is still following an open records request to the RRC regarding agenda items about two letters to the EPA about the Federal Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. We are curious. Are you?

Some of favorite public servants right now are at NOAA, the National Oceanographc and Atmospheric Administration. They’ve been busy tracking Tropical Storm Cindy for us. They’ve also got fascinating reports on the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, predicted to be the largest ever this year; excessive heat; global fish crime; the second warmest year to date; global coral bleaching; how to identify, avoid, and hopefully survive a rip tide; and 30 Days of Ocean. NOAA just celebrated Sea Turtle Week, and that’s where our header photo comes from: a story on the Sea Turtle Early Restoration Project. Developed to help restore turtle populations affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, this project is a collaboration between NOAA, the Department of Interior, and the State of Texas.


Environment Matters: Katie Jones, American Lung Association, Houston Office
On Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at 6:00 pm, join the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC) at Axelrad for Environment Matters, a monthly gathering for anyone interested in the environment. This month, Katie Jones, the executive Director of the Houston Office of the American Lung Association, will share information about the Houston region’s grade in the ALA State of the Air Report. Grab a seat & beverage for an inclusive and interactive get together. Learn from experts, find out about local events, and enjoy the fun! If you are new to the Houston environmental community, this will be a great event to connect. Sign up for updates on facebook.

Environmental MidYear-In-Review Survey

Halfway through each year (and again at the end of the year), we like asking our readers to tell us what they might put on a top-ten list of the most important things impacting the environment in the Houston region this year. Here’s what we’ve got so far (in no particular order):

  • Passing the City of Houston Bike Plan
  • Preventing the Texas Legislature’s ban on local reusable bag regulations
  • Trump pulling US out of Paris Climate Accord
  • Toxic Substance Control Act is updated and called The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act
  • San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund 100% removal of dioxin proposed
  • People’s Climate March (and Women’s March & Science March)
  • Climate change & related flooding/storm surge threat
  • Threat of widening of I45, which is proposed to cover Little White Oak and impose even greater air quality, noise pollution, and lack of connectivity burdens on a large, mostly disadvantaged part of Houston
  • Legislative effort to remove municipalities’ ability to regulate local issues such as tree preservation that are essential to combating urban heat island effect
  • Trump Administration Proposes Steep EPA Budget Cuts (more information available on the website of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies)

You are welcome to add information at any time during the year, and we will be asking again at the end of the year. Curious about past suggestion? Check out 2016 results.

Greater Houston Environmental Summit & Environmental Education Expo
Annually, CEC hosts a networking and learning event for the extraordinary people who work at or are interested in the work of environmental organizations in the greater Houston region. In 2017, CEC will be hosting the Greater Houston Environmental Summit on Friday, August 4, 2017, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at the Community Resource Center at the United Way of Greater Houston. In addition to excellent keynote presentations and panels, we will again offer small-format table talks. We will feature a panel in conjunction with EarthShare of Texas, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. We are partnering with a variety of environmental education collaboratives to offer an Environmental Education Expo for teachers and informal educators. If you are interested in exhibiting at the EE Expo, please contact Marina@cechouston.org. We’re taking suggestions & proposals for the table talks, so if you have an issue you’d like to learn about or share with the environmental community, drop us a line at rachel@cechouston.org.

Earth Day Houston 2018
Thank you to everyone who joined us to discuss Earth Day Houston 2018. The next meeting will be on Wednesday, July 21, 2017, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Community Resource Center of the United Way of Greater Houston. To learn more or be added to the mailing list, please contact marina@cechouston.org.

Sign Up for Reliant Eco-Share, Support CEC

Reliant--EcoShare-Banner-bluebonnetsCEC is pleased to be a beneficiary in the  Reliant EcoShare Program, a way that Texans can support the CEC and offset their own carbon production at the same time. Reliant and EarthShare of Texas have launched a program that allows Reliant customers to help reduce their carbon footprints through the purchase of carbon offsets. And for each customer-purchased offset, Reliant will make a contribution to EarthShare of Texas and its participating organizations, including CEC! For more information, visit the EcoShare webpage.


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Tiffany Nguyen: Communications & Policy Intern

Tiffany is a Senior Bioenvironmental Science Major at Texas A&M University, currently working towards her final credit for graduation in August 2017.

She has been very active in the Vietnamese Student Association, serving as an officer for two years and heading up major local events like Big Event and WorldFest in College Station.

Tiffany is from Alief in the Houston area. She has traveled extensively, with trips to Canada, Vietnam, and a handful of states in the U.S. Last summer, Tiffany studied abroad in Daejeon, Korea, where she took a Korean language and Agricultural Biotechnology course, which often times felt more like fun than school.

Tiffany’s interests range from general ecology to fungi, but ultimately she is pursuing a career in environmental sampling and monitoring. She would welcome introductions from anyone involved in environmental sampling, monitoring, and consulting.

Although a green future is facing some obstacles right now, Tiffany is hopeful that the path we’re traveling on can be paved by more students like her and organizations like the CEC.

CEC Welcomes Claire Gottsegen as Environmental Policy Intern

Born and raised in Houston, Claire is senior at Yale University majoring in Environmental Studies. She focuses on issues of biodiversity conservation.

During her time at Yale, she has studied and performed molecular analyses in evolutionary biology research labs. Past projects include the Galapagos Tortoise Conservation Genetics project in The Caccone Lab, in which selective breeding aims to rescue two lineages from extinction, and phylogenetics work on the evolutionary history of the Stripetail Darter fish in The Near Lab.

Her current project with Professor Thomas Near addresses the evolutionary history of the Snail Darter made famous by the landmark conservation case TVA vs. Hill in the 1970’s. Along with executing genetic analysis in the lab, Claire is investigating policy and advocacy of endangered species. In particular: how do environmental advocacy groups incorporate scientific discovery and descriptions of biodiversity into their campaigns?

Outside of academics, Claire sings in the Yale Women’s Slavic Choir, volunteers at New Haven Reads, and experiments with bread baking.

Claire is excited to work with CEC over the summer and looks forward to meeting with local environmental advocacy groups.