Houston’s forum asks how to make energy, environment, economy work together

Energy, the Environment, & the Economy: Making It Work will air on Houston PBS Channel 8, on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Hosted by journalist, Patricia Gras, the televised community forum will try to find “common ground” on issues related to the global recession, Texas’ fight with the U.S. EPA over air permits and the BP oil disaster.

“Energy, the environment and the economy are of utmost importance to each and every one of us who calls this region our home,” said Catherine Mosbacher, President and CEO of the Center for Houston’s Future, in a statement about the program.

The nonprofit think-tank partners with PBS and Houston Community Newspapers to put on the forum which will feature questions the audience and call-ins from viewers.

Against oil odds, Houston races to a greener future

The Bayou City -- Greener than you think (Photo: Green Right Now)

The Bayou City -- greener than you think (Photo: Green Right Now)


Driving around Houston, or idling in traffic on one of the city’s big expanses of highway, it’s hard to think of the nation’s oil capital as a green city. Like other sprawling Sunbelt meccas built on the assumption that roads were forever, the city deals with intense traffic-related pollution. It’s known in the parlance of the EPA as a “non-attainment” metro area for its inability to meet healthy air quality targets. It can mount a hazy skyline to rival L.A.’s and it’s got the added burden of benzene and other toxics wafting in from nearby oil refineries. And still, the petrol city gets that it is a new greener day in America.

Google this: Carbon emissions for your city or town

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

As we drive deeper into our Orwellian future ala Google, where you can practically peer into our uncle’s windows in Toledo via Google Earth, it makes complete sense that we should also be able to track how we’re corrupting the atmosphere.

Thus, today, you can view CO2 emissions, thanks to a new Google Earth application developed by Purdue University researchers and funded by NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Purdue Showalter Trust and Indianapolis-based Knauf Insulation.

The interactive CO2 emissions map will mostly confirm what you already know – that it’s getting thick out there, especially in cities like Los Angeles, plagued by higher than average auto emissions, and Houston, afflicted with bad air from industrial processes like oil refining. This is readily apparent because the chart color codes carbon pollution from different sectors, such as aircraft, on road and off road transportation; commercial and industrial sources; electricity production and residential emissions.

Rice University team will turn Hurricane Ike waste into soil-enriching “biochar”

By Julie Bonnin and Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

At this time of year, when many municipalities are gearing up for holiday tree recycling programs, the city of Houston is dealing with something far more monumental – more than 5.6 million cubic tons of tree waste left behind after Hurricane Ike swept through Southeast Texas in early September.

The city turned some of the debris into mulch, but launched a contest in October, Recycle Ike, to spark ideas for keeping the remaining tree waste from simply being disposed of in landfills.

The winners, announced last week, are a Rice University team of students and scientists who will create a biomass charcoal from the tree remains. The group was among more than 200 entrants from around the world that submitted ideas.

Houston launches Recycle Ike program for hurricane debris

By Julie Bonnin

Attention all recycling innovators: they city of Houston has launched a nationwide contest designed to create new markets for recycled tree limbs and make use of the mountains of woody vegetation left in Hurricane Ike’s wake.

With enough tree trunks, branches and other tree remnants to fill Houston’s Astrodome nearly four times, the debris- 5.6 million cubic yards — far surpasses what can be used locally for mulch.

Houston Aims To Improve Its Recycling Rates

By Julie Bonnin

When Houston made headlines for abysmal recycling rates last month, it dealt a blow to the work Mayor Bill White has been doing to improve the city’s environmental reputation. White, who was Deputy Director of the U. S. Energy Department under President Bill Clinton, has pushed to clean up the city’s environmental record, with victories such as special recognition for the city’s commitment to development of a solar infrastructure (from DOE this past spring), and its designation as the nation’s top municipal purchaser of green power (from the Environmental Protection Agency).

But there may yet be hope for turning Houston a deeper shade of green. Weeks after being called the worst recycler of the country’s 30 major metropolitan areas, city officials have announced their intention to launch an ambitious pilot program that involves the latest in “single stream” recycling.

Green Artists Come Together, In Houston And Online

By Julie Bonnin Artists are in a unique position to comment on the state of the world and environmental concerns. Using found objects is one well-known mode of artistic expression that reinforces the idea of finding beauty all around us, while imbuing value in...