Healthy Port Communities Coalition

The Healthy Port Communities Coalition (HPCC) is building a strong base of well-informed and active local residents who will engage public and private stakeholders directly on priority issues. The Coalition is an open-ended collaboration that has so far included the following organizations:

  • Air Alliance Houston
  • Pleasantville Environmental Coalition
  • Public Citizen
  • Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services
  • Texas Organizing Project

The Objectives of the Coalition include:

  • Organize port communities to engage decision-making bodies on port expansions.
  • Release documentation demonstrating the need for pollution reduction and the impacts of increases in emissions from new sources of pollution and work on policies to reduce the impacts of those emissions.
  • Advocate for policy changes at the state, regional and local level that will encourage economic growth in port areas while improving public health and implement resulting port clean-up programs.

The Coalition is pursuing these objectives through a number of active projects.

Port of Houston Town Hall Meeting

On April 25 HPCC community residents held a Town Hall Meeting at Holland Middle School to organize themselves on issues of shared concern in their communities. Community representatives from Pleasantville, Pasadena, Deer Park, Manchester, Fifth Ward, Denver Harbor, Magnolia, and others spoke about priority issues, many of which are common to all these communities.          

Port Community Survey

The Coalition is conducting a health and economic impact survey of portside communities, including Denver Harbor, Fifth Ward, Manchester, Pasadena, Pleasantville, and Port Houston. (The Coalition chose not to survey Galena Park because Air Alliance Houston conducted a similar survey there last year.) The preliminary results of this survey showed that almost 90% of portside residents are concerned about the effect of local pollution on their health and that cancer rates in these communities are more than 8 times higher than the Texas average. The survey also helped to identify issues of concern unique to each community and issues common to some or all of them. The survey data helps HPCC to organize port communities and advocated for Port of Houston residents.

Port Community Tours

The Coalition places a strong emphasis on Port Community Tours to educate lawmakers, officials, and citizens about the impacts of industrial activity on portside community residents. Coalition’s most recent tour was conducted on Friday, March 22 for the benefit of several state legislators. The tours are unique in that they are conducted by residents of impacted communities.

Legislative Advocacy

The HPCC advocates on legislative issues that impact portside communities. The Port Authority Sunset Legislation (HB 1642) was recently passed by the Texas Legislature (effective September 1, 2013). The bill includes needed ethics and transparency reforms identified during the Sunset Review process. The bill also imposed term limits that will remove four of seven Port Commissioners in the coming months. The HPCC is advocating for commissioners who adequately represent the needs of portside residents.

The HPCC also worked on SB 1727, a bill that reforms the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP), which provides financial incentives to certain pollution reduction projects. The bill enlarges TERP to include projects that achieve reductions in particulate matter. The HPCC also advocated for more funding for TERP.

 

Join with us in improving health, prosperity, and environment for port communities!

For more information, contact one of the organizations listed above or write to brian@airalliancehouston.org.