Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: May 22, 2015

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  1. Threats to prairie show tension between growth, flood protection (Mike Snyder – Houston Chronicle, 5/16/2016)
    “Imagine a sponge. Now imagine that you had access to something that would make this sponge – an inherently absorbent object – many times more absorbent. Something that supercharged its capacity to soak up and hold liquid. That’s a fair description of the grass that grows on the Katy Prairie, which straddles the border of Harris and Waller counties. A 2015 study for the Harris County Flood Control District found evidence that the prairie’s native vegetation increased the ‘infiltrative capacity of soil.’ In other words, the grass makes the prairie a better sponge.”
    www.houstonchronicle.com
  2. Houston’s Energy Corridor Works To Promote Bike Commuting (Gail Delaughter – Houston Public Media, 5/16/2016)
    “With all the cars and congestion along the roads that cross I-10, the Energy Corridor may not seem like a friendly place to ride a bike. But a lot of people do it. About 100,000 people work in the area. Energy Corridor Transportation Coordinator Kelly Rector estimates about 2 percent cycle to work. ‘We have all the trails along Bush Park, as well as Terry Hershey Park, so that you can come from the other side of the reservoir all the way to the BP campus at Westlake and never have to share the road with a car,’ explains Rector. ‘You’re on a trail the entire way.’ But what if you have to ride a bike on one of the busy arteries like Highway 6 or Eldridge Parkway?”
    www.houstonpublicmedia.org
  3. Bacteria levels too high in San Jacinto River (Natasha Rodrigues – The Tribune, 5/16/2016)
    “The West Fork San Jacinto River and its tributary, Lake Creek, in Montgomery and Grimes counties, has been identified by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) as failing to meet state water quality standards due to elevated levels of bacteria. West Fork Watersheds Partnership held its first public meeting May 5 at the San Jacinto River Authority in Conroe, in an effort to improve West Fork San Jacinto River and Lake Creek’s water quality. A Watershed Protection Plan was introduced by the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s (H-GAC) Justin Bower, senior environmental planner and project manager. ”
    www.ourtribune.com

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Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: May 15, 2015

  1. Silent and Deadly: Benzene Leaks From Pipelines Have Been Quietly Adding to the Ship Channel Toxic Mix (Dianna Wray – Houston Press, 5/10/2016)

    Photo by Daniel Kramer

    “Midway through his presentation, about just-discovered potentially dangerous levels of benzene in their neighborhoods, Jay Olaguer saw the blank looks on the faces in the audience and realized they weren’t getting it. Olaguer, the air-quality science program director at the Houston Advanced Research Center, had spent years getting to this point in February 2015. He finally had the funding to conduct his research projects using everything from CT scans to human lung cells in order to measure the levels of benzene and other toxic emissions found in Manchester and Galena Park. ”
    www.houstonpress.com

  2. A sacred space under a rare hill (Lisa Gray – Houston Chronicle, 5/7/2016)
    “In early summer of 2010, nobody thought much about the artificial hill where, every year, the city of Houston launched Fourth of July fireworks. Next to Jamail Skatepark, the hill lay inside a strip of land that Buffalo Bayou Partnership was preparing to buy and transform into a park. Hills being rare in Houston, the partnership’s consultants thought they might be able to put this one to good use – maybe as the site of the park’s concert hall, which would then have a stunning, up-close view of downtown. And maybe, they thought, the park could find a use for the enormous underground space that they knew must exist beneath the hill. It had been a drinking-water reservoir, built in 1926, a space as large as one and a half football fields. Now the city was taking bids to demolish the leaky old thing, to remove its concrete and fill it with dirt.”
    www.houstonchronicle.com
  3. What will we do when the emergency is real? (Brian Butler – airCurrent News, 5/11/2016)
    “‘This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test.’ This annoying message may interrupt you while watching TV or listening to the radio. But what if it interrupted dinner with your family? Or your sleep? For some in Houston, it does. Emergency notifications aren’t just for PBS. If you live near one of Houston’s hundreds of petrochemical facilities, you face the very real threat of an explosion or hazardous chemical release. With these potential public health disasters looming, safeguards are required. Sirens and loudspeakers are prepared to warn residents and provide instructions in case of emergency. Tests of those systems are routine, even expected. Such is life in Houston’s fenceline communities. But what happens when disaster actually strikes? Do emergency notification systems work? Lately in Houston, they have not. Several incidents this year have shown weaknesses in our emergency alert systems. Our communities deserve better.”
    http://airalliancehouston.org

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Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: May 8, 2015

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  1. As Houston Sprawls, New Roads Proposed For Katy Prairie (Dave Fehling – Houston Public Media, 5/2/2016)
    “A new plan is under consideration by Harris County, a plan to build or expand miles of roads or “thoroughfares” in and around thousands of acres managed by the Katy Prairie Conservancy in far northwest Harris County. The land plays a crucial role in absorbing storm water and reducing flooding. Harris County’s Engineer, John Blount, says the county is very much aware of the sensitive environment and actually have eliminated 20 miles of new roads that had been proposed to cross the protected land. ‘The goal here is to eliminate all these proposed roads not only within the conservancy boundaries, the 20 miles that are within their current boundaries, and there’s additional roads that come to their boundaries that would be eliminated also,’ Blount told News 88.7. The Katy Prairie Conservancy has a different take on the plan. ‘Yes there are some roads they’re dispensing with but they are also putting in brand new major thoroughfares that they’re proposing going through east-west and north-south of our preserve system,’ says the conservancy’s Mary Anne Piacentini.”
    www.houstonpublicmedia.org
  2. Investigators: 500 Gallons Of Pesticides Burned In Massive Industrial Fire (Houston Public Media, 5/6/2016)
    “About 500 gallons of pesticides were stored at a Houston warehouse complex consumed by a large blaze Thursday, an HFD official said. Firefighters continued to extinguish on-going flare-ups and hotspots on Friday. Authorities on the scene are trying to determine how much ran off into nearby creeks. Fire Cpt. Ruy Lozano said on Friday that it’s not clear how much of the pesticide was burned in the fire and how much leaked into adjacent waterways, but that drinking water is safe. Officials are asking residents to stay away from water run-off to nearby areas.”
    www.houstonpublicmedia.org
  3. Clean Power what? Most Americans haven’t heard of climate rule (Elizabeth Harball – E&E Publishing, LLC, 5/5/2016)
    The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, considered by many to be the most far-reaching climate regulation ever set forth by the U.S. government, has barely registered in the minds of most American voters. A new national poll found 7 in 10 voters have heard ‘just a little or nothing at all’ about EPA’s regulation to rein in carbon emissions from power plants. In a different poll of Texas voters that was also released yesterday, 85 percent of respondents surveyed had not ‘seen, read or heard of a federal policy called the Clean Power Plan.’ Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, which conducted the national poll, said it didn’t shock him that EPA’s climate rule hasn’t made waves among average Americans. www.eenews.net

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