CEC ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS UPDATE 11/8/02
Earth Day 2003
Plans for Houston Earth Day 2003 are already underway and the CEC needs your help to top last year's effort. If you would like to participate in the event or if you would like to share your ideas on how we can make Earth Day even better, please contact Sarah Doss at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Earth Day 2002, visit the web at www.houstonearthday.org.
Printer to Donate
The CEC has a printer to donate to any non-profit organization that needs one. The printer is a Macintosh LaserWriter Select. With 600 dpi resolution, speed up to 10 pages per minute, serial and parallel ports, it operates on a Macintosh or PC. If your organization needs the printer, contact Sarah Doss at email@example.com.
Keep up with all the latest environmental news by subscribing to Environmental Exchange. The CECs monthly newsletter offers in-depth coverage of local ecological issues you want to know about. It also provides a comprehensive listing of regular Coalition activities. If you are not already on our mailing list, email your address to Sarah Doss at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dont miss another month of important environmental news. If you already receive the newsletter, let us hear from you. We want to know what your environmental organization is working on, what issues youd like to see covered, what were doing wrong or what were doing right. Do so by contacting Erika McDonald at email@example.com.
Clean Air Forum
To help introduce transportation choices and the benefits of incentive-based commuter programs to area businesses, a Clean Air Forum will be held Tuesday, November 12, from 911 am, at the JW Marriott Hotel. The Forum was organized by the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Houston Minority Business Council. H-GAC will present its Mission Clean Air program, an incentive-based campaign designed for businesses, industries and local governments to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion. There will also be a panel discussion of transportation and business experts covering topics such as clean air emissions and voluntary reductions, state and federal environmental compliance assistance and leadership initiatives. Shell Oil Company will cosponsor the event. For more information on the forum, contact Rochelle Booker at 281-649-9595 or Anne Mrok-Smith at 713-993-2438. For more information on the Mission Clean Air Program, visit www.missioncleanair.org.
MFCA Needs Volunteers
Mothers for Clean Air need volunteers to staff a table at the Health and Social Justice Fair on November 14-16. The fair, sponsored by Texas Southern University and the John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science, will be held at TSU. MFCAs table will provide information on air quality and offer lung function tests by TSU respiratory therapy students. If you would like to volunteer, contact Jane Laping at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-526-0110. For more information about the fair, visit www.museumofhealth.org/health_conference/HSJ_schedule.pdf.
A federal appellate court upheld the conviction of a Houston hospital owner last week, settling Texas first-ever criminal asbestos case.
Eric Kung-Shou Ho was found guilty in 1998 of violating provisions of the Clean Air Act pertaining to asbestos removal. Prosecutors said that Ho hired undocumented workers from Mexico to scrape fireproofing that contained asbestos from metal beams. They argued that Ho instructed workers to perform the improper removal at night to avoid detection and failed to warn them about the dangers of asbestos poisoning or provide them with adequate protection during the three months of exposure.
Ho was convicted of failing to file the required notice of intent to renovate and disturb asbestos-laced material with the Texas Department of Health and failing to adhere to Environmental Protection Agency rules covering work practices.
A Texas Department of Health investigation and discovery of the illegal asbestos abatement followed a March 1998 explosion at the work site, caused when workers confused a pressurized gas line in the hospital for a water line. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration then began an enforcement action against Ho and two of his companies.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ordered a resentencing, finding that the lower court had misinterpreted sentencing guidelines. Ho originally faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Justices rejected defense arguments that the provisions of the Clean Air Act, under which Ho was convicted, were unconstitutional.
New Speed Limit
On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency gave the third and final approval needed to raise the maximum speed limit to 65 mph for the Houston-Galveston area. The EPA approval followed similar decisions from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the State Transportation Commission.
The speed limit was lowered to 55 mph earlier this year as part of the State Implementation Plan to bring the city into compliance with the Clean Air Act. But according to EPA spokesperson Dave Berry the so-called environmental speed limit did little to reduce emissions. New data revealed that original estimates, which indicated the 55-mph limit would lower nitric oxide emissions by 13 tons per day, were wrong by half. Berry said improved technology and better equipment to measure vehicle emissions provided more accurate data.
In 2004, the EPA will conduct a mid-term review of the State Implementation Plan. Until then, Berry said, no more changes will be made to the plan.
On the eve of Tuesdays election Governor Rick Perry announced the speed limit increase, making it official.
ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION
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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