Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: July 4, 2015

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  1. Air Alliance Houston Report Shows High Benzene Levels in Galena Park (Dianna Wray – Houston Press, 7/1/2016)
    “It’s been known for years that the air in Galena Park is laced with benzene, but a new study from Air Alliance Houston has shown varying amounts of benzene have been found at different sites in the town, each site clocking benzene emission levels higher than those considered acceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency. The idea to collect air monitor samples came about because of a lawsuit Air Alliance Houston and other environmental groups filed against the EPA in 2012. The lawsuit was filed to push the federal regulators to install fence-line monitoring systems to catch the amount of benzene emitted from nearby oil refineries and Air Alliance Houston and company won. The systems should be fully installed by 2018, according to the EPA. Since then Air Alliance Houston has worked closely with the EPA to put together the fence-line monitoring requirements for the refineries.”
    www.houstonpress.com
  2. Recycling, glass, and Houston’s future (Bruce Race – Houston Chronicle, 6/10/2016)
    “Two months after Houston renegotiated a deal that ended curbside glass recycling, 80 people met at the University of Houston to consider the future of recycling and other waste management issues. That future, they agreed, should look nothing like the current state of affairs here. The issue is far bigger than whether people can toss their beer bottles and pasta sauce jars into their big green recycling bins. Recycling should be part of the city’s economic development and environmental plans. For now, though, the decision about glass is made. Under a deal approved by the city council in March, Houston will pay Waste Management $90 per ton to process and resell its recycled materials for the next two years. That’s less than Waste Management wanted, and for a shorter time frame. But there was a catch. Glass will no longer be allowed in the bins for curbside pickup — only paper, plastic, cardboard and metal cans. Anyone wanting to recycle glass must do so on their own at a city recycling center. In other words, Houston residents are likely to recycle far less glass over the next two years. Instead, those bottles and jars will pile up in the landfill.”
    www.houstonchronicle.com
  3. Woodlands to study drainage issues in wake of flooding (Bridget Balch – Houston Chronicle, 6/27/2016)
    “Following the record rainfall that pounded Montgomery County this spring, The Woodlands Township board has created a task force to facilitate further attention to drainage issues and to help prevent future flooding. As a master-planned community, The Woodlands was designed with a comprehensive drainage plan, including storm water drains, ditches, green spaces and retention ponds – all meant to keep water from seeping into homes. But in April and May, about 25 Woodlands homes took on water, many for the first time, as well as a church and The Woodlands High School.”
    www.chron.com

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Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: June 26, 2015

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  1. Texas Gulf dead zone caused by excessive rainfall, unlike Louisiana’s (Dylan Baddour – Houston Chronicle, 6/22/2016. Photo by Johnny Hanson, Staff)
    “Headlines this month bring grim news of a massive ‘dead zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico. Is this something Houston should be worried about? Yes and no. Most of those headlines refer to a recent study from Louisiana State University, which forecast a dead zone in the Gulf one-third larger than average this summer. That’s big. It forms from chemical runoff in the Mississippi River, and it kills a lot of marine life. But that’s Louisiana. Texas is different. It has a different kind of dead zone, said Steve DiMarco, an oceanographer and veteran dead zone researcher with Texas A&M, and it’s also hitting record size this year after a rainy spring. When you put the two contiguous zones together, that’s a 600-mile swath of uninhabitable sea from Gulfport, Miss., to south of Corpus Christi.”
    www.houstonchronicle.com
  2. Heavy rains prompt Montgomery County officials to study ways to reduce flooding (Matthew Tresaugue – Houston Chronicle, 6/19/2016)
    “A good 40 inches of rain has pelted Montgomery County this year – well ahead of the typical pace and too much at times for the usually tranquil streams in this rapidly growing area. So regional leaders are embarking on a nearly $1 million study to improve and expand the early flood warning capabilities for the county. Under the plan, the San Jacinto River Authority also would analyze water flows and explore ways to reduce the likelihood of flooding, such as scooping out parts of streams that can cause bottlenecks. The authority, which manages surface water in the river basin, is teaming with Montgomery County and the city of Conroe. The entities are asking the Texas Water Development Board to cover half the costs.”
    www.houstonchronicle.com
  3. Nature preserves, water project dot northeast Harris County canvas (Jennifer Summer – The Humble Observer, 6/19/2016)
    “Taking advantage of the natural landscape, wildlife and beauty of the northeast side of the Houston area; several groups are working to provide outdoor nature preserves for residents to enjoy in the future. The Greens Bayou Coalition and an outreach specialist from the Texas Water Development Board were on hand at the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce’s Atascocita BizCom Thursday to explain a few of their upcoming projects.”
    www.yourhoustonnews.com

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Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: June 19, 2015

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  1. Galveston commissioners pull plug on proposed Bolivar wastewater treatment plant (Harvey Rice – Houston Chronicle, 6/7/2016)
    “Galveston County commissioners on Tuesday voted to kill a $13.8 million project to build a sewage treatment plant on the Bolivar Peninsula, blaming changing requirements by federal regulators. The decision disappointed many Bolivar Peninsula residents, who say reliance on septic tanks is creating environmental hazards and polluting the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay. Commissioner Ryan Dennard, who had championed the project, said officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development constantly changed requirements for qualifying for the $13.8 million in federal money available to build the plant. ‘It is probably the single most-important thing that needs to happen to Bolivar for both health and environmental reasons,’ Dennard said of the project. Dennard nevertheless voted with other commissioners to kill the project because, he said, the hurdles were insurmountable.”
    www.houstonchronicle.com
  2. Oysters on a boat deckGalveston County declares oyster disaster (Harvey Rice – Houston Chronicle, 6/14/2016)
    “Oyster boat captains last year thought they were suffering through one of the worst years in decades for the Texas oyster industry as freshwater from heavy rains flooded Galveston Bay and killed oysters. This year is turning out to be much worse. Galveston County Judge Mark Henry on Tuesday issued a disaster declaration for the Galveston Bay oyster industry, but the problem is not restricted to Galveston Bay. Persistent downpours throughout eastern Texas are swamping oyster beds with deadly freshwater all along the Texas Gulf Coast. The surge of oyster-killing freshwater for the second straight year is the latest in a series of setbacks for the Texas oyster industry, which supplies about 30 percent of all oysters harvested in the Gulf of Mexico.”
    www.houstonchronicle.com
  3. Supreme Court rejects case challenging key White House air pollution regulation (Houston Chronicle, 6/14/2016)
    “The Supreme Court on Monday left intact a key Obama administration environmental regulation, refusing to take up an appeal from 20 states to block rules that limit the emissions of mercury and other harmful pollutants that are byproducts of burning coal. The high court’s decision leaves in place a lower-court ruling that found that the regulations, put in place several years ago by the Environmental Protection Agency, could remain in effect while the agency revised the way it had calculated the potential industry compliance costs. The EPA finalized its updated cost analysis in April. In a statement Monday, the EPA praised the court’s decision not to review the case, saying the mercury standards are an important part of a broader effort to ensure clean air for Americans.”
    www.houstonchronicle.com

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