FIELD INTERVIEWERS PASADENA

This position is for our Pasadena Community Project. Click the links below for the Job Description and Application documents. Once the application and your documents are completed please email them to paula@airalliancehouston.org , fax to 713-526-0550, or mail it to Air Alliance Houston, 3914 Leeland, Houston, TX, 77003. If you fax, or mail please call or email for confirmation.  If you have questions please call Paula Torrado at 832-935-2798 . Pasadena Community Project- Job Description-page-0Application

Will the #NoDAPL decision stand?

 

rs-nodapl2-1068x561

 

Now that Federal officials have denied the final Dakota Access Pipeline permits and the Army Corps of Engineers are considering alternative pipeline routes, what comes next? Has the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won the war, or only a significant battle?

Well if one were to consider the rhetoric coming out of Washington, the answer can sound somewhat grim. Not to mention, it would be foolish for anyone to ignore the 500-ton elephant entering the room. The new administration has already begun posturing in a way that has many environmentalists feeling quite uneasy.

On Monday, a spokesman of the incoming administration said, the pipeline “is something we support construction of, and we will review the situation when we are in the White House to make the appropriate determination at that time.” Moreover, the incoming president has pledged to overhaul the nation’s energy policy in a way that favors oil and natural gas producers. He has also said he will find a way to reverse the Obama administration’s rejection of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, and overturn environmental regulations he blames for “quashing energy production.”

When the news of the permit denial first broke, Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, tweeted out that it was “big-government decision-making at its worse” and that he looked “forward to putting this anti-energy presidency behind” him.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-1-13-30-pm

 

If this is to be the sentiment of the white house and congress moving forward, how can anyone feel overly confident about current environmental regulations? Let alone, future ones. Some rules are close to being finalized after lengthy comment periods, what will become of them? With upcoming rules like the Clean Power Plan and the Refinery rule, one can only wonder what the next four years will mean for U.S. environmental policy. Not to mention, the devil-in-the-details part of this equation, the enforcement, of those policies.

ap_16339046785481_custom-5eb7a084a860c300f28f1e7a337495cbbf52c055-s800-c85

Going Gaga for Green in New Zealand

 

Our family visiting the Te Anau glow worm caves. Pictured top left to right are Amanda Richards, Tessa DeMers, Sandra DeMers, Sara DeMers (author;) Bottom Left to right are Byron Richards, Chris Heald.
Our family visiting the Te Anau glow worm caves. Pictured top left to right are Amanda Richards, Tessa DeMers, Sandra DeMers, Sara DeMers (author;) Bottom Left to right are Byron Richards, Chris Heald.

Over the holidays, I took a trip to New Zealand along with my husband and mother to visit family currently residing on the South Island. The trip was amazing and filled with once-in-a-lifetime wildlife viewings,  amazing sunsets and awe-inspiring hikes. One thing that really made an impression on me, given my affinity for environmental issues, was New Zealand’s green practices.  New Zealand doesn’t try and hide the fact that they are sustainable and proud of it.  A quick review of their 2015 Tourism Strategy includes ways to market sustainability to visitors as well as ways to keep the impact on the environment of visitors to a minimum.  Several souvenirs I brought home included references to sustainability including a tea towel featuring the phrase “Clean Green” next to a map of the country.

IMG_2283
One of three trash cans outside a residence in Timaru as part of the Waste Minimization initiative.

 

Sustainable initiatives are supported by the government through legislation, but enforced by the residents of New Zealand who comply with the need for sustainable efforts and effectively support it through commerce.  One extremely interesting trash practice I witnessed was called “Waste Minimisation” through the Timaru District Council.  Timaru is a city outside of Christchurch, but also the home of my brother-in-law’s parents.  We stayed with them over Christmas and I saw first-hand the 3-bin curbside collection service designed to save the city money from not having to open another landfill.

The waste streams are processed at three council-owned facilities:

  • Compost Facility
  • Materials Recovery facility
  • Redruth Landfill

Our hostess, Janet Richards, shared her thoughts on the system and her motivation to participate:

“It’s great. We already did a certain amount of recycling anyway so we personally found it more convenient. My husband always took aluminium, glass and metal to the recycling center. There used to be huge bins at the supermarkets for glass and old clothes. We have always managed a lot of our green waste by composting to use on the garden. At school the kids can be lazy and we have to be careful to check they are putting waste in the correct bins. One of the teachers takes the food scraps home for her hens. My school also used to have a worm farm for food scraps. All in all its actually more convenient.”

Tires are recycled in this garden and used as planters.

 

Another wonderful practice that I noted over and again is upcycling. Sure, this is nothing new to US residents, but more people participate in this practice in New Zealand because purchasing new items is often cost-prohibitive in this remote part of the world and shipping costs can be exorbitant.  New Zealand boasts healthy online commerce, including sites such as Trade Me, which assist people in their quest to buy or sell.

If you are lucky enough to visit New Zealand, it is easy to understand why everyone would be so motivated to protect the natural environment. Having only been sighted by Europeans in 1642,  this country benefits from being undisturbed by European influence up until 2 centuries ago. New Zealand is filled with pristine landscapes and abundant wildlife that people want to protect.

Smoke from the coal steam engine of the TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown.
Smoke from the coal steam engine of the TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown.

Given the popularity and support for green initiatives, I was extremely surprised to find myself watching the steam from a coal-powered engine pollute the otherwise blue skies from deck of the TSS Earnslaw while gliding across the gorgeous Lake Wakatipu on a stunning day. We had booked this trip via a reputable provider and although there was mention of this vessel having an actual steam engine, it never occurred to me that they would be using it. I had naively believed they would be using some other means to propel us across the waters towards the farming station we were going to visit. The steam room was open so that visitors could see the engine operate with exposed coal under the pressure of a constant stream of water. The room was complete with a stoker- a young boy who seemed to be in his teens, the back of his shirt prominently displaying the title, “Stoker” and wearing a gas mask. My husband made fun of me for caring so much, but I couldn’t believe that we were unknowingly supporting this nonsensical practice. After the experience, I did a little more research and found out that this attraction had even received a Bronze Enviro Award from Qualmark. According to Qualmark’s website, this award symbolizes  “Outstanding levels of resource management and actions.” I haven’t been able to identify any specific practices so I can only guess why they received the recognition that they did. I also learned that  the TSS Earnslaw is the only remaining commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere.

Another view of the black smog traveling into the blues skies over Lake Wakatipu.
Another view of the black smog traveling into the blues skies over Lake Wakatipu.

The coal-powered steam ship was a bump in the road on an otherwise delightful day. It did leave me with the idea that even in a place such as New Zealand with wonderful sustainable initiatives, there is always room for growth.  As a global community, we need to hold each other accountable and offer constructive criticism so that we can continue to improve. Despite the TSS Earnslaw’s use of coal,  Americans could learn a lot from our friends on the other side of the world in the southern hemisphere.