Improving Air Quality For Houstonians And Beyond

BY ON June 20, 2013

Houston skyline

This was written by Marcelo Norsworthy:

The success of Texas has long been linked to the success of Hispanics. Today, nearly 40% of Texans are Hispanic. As the Hispanic community continues to shape the future of Texas (nearly 50 percent of our state’s youth is Hispanic), we need to pay close attention to the ongoing air quality and public health challenges facing Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and other areas with significant Hispanic populations.

Nationwide, one in every two Hispanics lives in a county that frequently violates health-based ozone standards (see U.S. Latinos and Air Pollution). This means Hispanics, especially those within sensitive subpopulations, such as children and the elderly, are at greater risk of public health effects, such as asthma, lung cancer, stroke and premature death due to increased exposure to harmful air pollution.

There is good news though! Hispanic businesses can make a significant difference in reducing air pollution through their logistics and freight transportation operations in key hubs, such as Houston. Last month, I attended the International Summit & Business Expo, hosted by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. At the conference, I met with representatives of several companies who are eager to grow their businesses in the Houston area and the rest of the state. Additionally, we discussed how they can play a leading role in reducing the health burden for Hispanics and all Houstonians by supporting clean air initiatives, such as participating in the Houston regional clean truck program, signing up for the SmartWay Drayage Program and setting efficiency and emissions reductions goals.

These programs help remove some of the dirtiest diesel trucks, which can be up to 60 times more polluting than a newer model, from our roadways and introduce more reliable and more efficient trucks. Retailers and other cargo owners then commit to ship at least 75% of their goods using cleaner carriers and trucks. By working on both the freight transportation supply and demand side, we are able to drive holistic and partnership-driven solutions for cleaner air.

The Tier 3 standards, which will reduce emissions from vehicles and fuels, will also go a long way toward improving air quality across the nation. Cities with heavy passenger vehicle traffic, like Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, will especially benefit from these standards that have broad support from industry, public health and environmental organizations. Moms Clean Air Force has been organizing around these important and timely standards and points to EPA estimates that Tier 3 would prevent up to 2,400 premature deaths and 1.8 million lost school or work days each year.

Whether we are talking about business partnerships like SmartWay Drayage or federal standards like Tier 3, we need innovative solutions and broad support to ensure that those living near pollution hot spots, including many Hispanics, have access to clean air.

Marcelo works on air pollution issues related to seaports and the freight movement sector of transportation, particularly at the Port of Houston. He has developed and analyzed metrics for estimating emissions at ports, worked with EDF’s corporate partners on leveraging their support for pollution mitigation programs, conducted an evaluation of clean truck programs, and partnered with the U.S. EPA and other federal agencies on transportation sustainability.


TOPICS: EPA, Latino Community, Ozone, Texas