CEC ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS UPDATE 11/22/02
Galveston Bay Foundation Hires New Executive Director
On November 11, Chuck Wemple began his tenure as the new executive director for the Galveston Bay Foundation. As vice chair of the Galveston Bay Estuary Program monitoring subcommittee for the past two years, Wemple was responsible for fundraising, fostering partnerships and leading implementation of the Galveston Bay Plan. Wemple also spent time with the Houston-Galveston Area Council in their community and environmental planning department. His experience there included studying wetlands loss, pollutant loading, invasive species and bioaccumulation in Galveston Bay and surrounding watersheds. He was involved with watershed monitoring programs, regulatory review, permitting and wetlands mitigation programs. Wemple will succeed interim executive director Alicia Goldberg who filled the position vacated by Linda Shead in March.
Earth First to Protest Maxxam
Beginning Monday, December 2, Houston Earth First! will organize monthly protests at the headquarters of Houston-based Maxxam. Owner of Pacific Lumber, Maxxam is responsible for clear cutting ancient redwood forests in Northern California. Environmentalists like Tony Nocella, an Earth Fist! organizer, fear the forest could be completely depleted in 20 years. He said by demonstrating in Houston, the group will show their solidarity with activists on the west coast who have risked their lives engaging in civil disobedience tactics like road blockades and tree sitting. Protesters also aim to bring local publicity to a company they say is destroying priceless natural resources. Nocella said he hopes CEC members will join in the protest. He said he thought Houstons environmental community focused too much on "paper pushing"-legislative work and litigation, rather than direct action.
"Wheres the hooting and hollering?" Nocella asked. "Houston environmentalists dont protest the way they do in places like Oregon or California. But they need to realize its time to take to the streets-this is about our grandchildren, about protecting resources that (once gone) we cant get back."
Protests will be on the first Monday of every month, 4:30 pm at 5847 San Felipe Suite 2600. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed legislation to strengthen federal safety programs for the 1.6 million miles of pipelines that transport oil, petroleum products and natural gas across the United States.
The measure, which was cleared by the Senate on Wednesday, requires more safety inspections of pipelines and boosts penalties for inadequate maintenance.
The bill would require pipelines to be inspected within the next 10 years to prevent leaks and ruptures. More problematic pipelines would be inspected within the first five years. All pipelines would then be re-inspected every seven years following the 10-year interval.
The legislation also increased the fine against companies that violate the pipeline safety rules from $25,000 to $100,000 per day. The penalty cap would double to $1 million per incident.
An average of four pipeline accidents causing death, injury or major property damage occur each week, according to the General Accounting Office. But environmental groups say only one in 25 pipeline violators are ever given fines.
The pipeline safety measure had been wrapped into a broader overhaul of U.S. energy policy that Congress was considering. But lawmakers on Wednesday declared the energy legislation dead for the year and tried to salvage some of its major parts.
There are more pipelines buried under Houston than any other city in the country. Nearly one fifth of the nations oil refining takes place within 100 miles of downtown Houston. A similar percentage of U.S. chemical manufacturing takes place in Harris, Brazoria and Galveston Counties. Though most lines are located in eastern Harris County, no area in the county is pipe free.
Texas Activists for Clean Air in D.C.
Texas clean air advocates are in Washington D.C. today and will host a national press conference tomorrow afternoon in response to expected clean air policy changes by George W. Bush.
The Bush Administration is expected to act tomorrow in their most significant attack yet on clean air and to reward major campaign contributors with sweeping rollbacks of the Clean Air Act. These changes to the Acts New Source Review safeguards will allow major energy companies to increase air pollution dramatically and put the health of Texans at risk.
"Texans have actively supported enforcement of existing health-based air protections, and will continue to fight for their right to breathe clean air," states Karen Hadden, Deputy Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition.
More than 130,000 citizens nationwide submitted comments to the EPA, with an overwhelming majority supporting full enforcement of the Clean Air Act, not rollbacks.
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CEC Environmental News Update is a weekly publication by the Citizens' Environmental Coalition, a 501(c)3 dedicated to fostering dialogue, education and collaboration about environmental issues in the Houston-Gulf Coast Region. Visit the CEC online at www.cechouston.org.
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