Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston)
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Nature Discovery Center welcomes new executive director, Henry Owen

Nature Discovery Center welcomes new executive director, Henry Owen | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
An excited Board of Directors of the Nature Discovery Center announced the appointment of Henry Owen as the Center’s new Executive Director to gathered supporters at the Center’s Annual Twilight Gala held on November 21, 2014 at the Houstonian Hotel.
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Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston)
News about the environment in the Houston region. Air Quality, Water Quality, Parks, Open Space, the Built Environment, Recycling, Solid Waste, Transportation Planning, Pollution...
Curated by CEC Houston
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From Freeways to Greenways —

From Freeways to Greenways — | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
By Deborah Lynn Blumberg To outsiders, Houston is all about barbeque, cowboys, and concrete. Home to the widest highway in the world—the 26-lane Katy Freeway—the city has long been a car-centric place, comfortable with its spider web of freeways, beltways, parkways, and feeder roads spreading fr
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Metro Presents Draft Long-Range Plan

Metro Presents Draft Long-Range Plan | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
Still preliminary, the plan includes airport rail connections, bus rapid transit and more but will likely face serious financial constraints.
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House Votes to Gut MSA, Landmark Law that Rebuilt U.S. Fisheries

House Votes to Gut MSA, Landmark Law that Rebuilt U.S. Fisheries | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 222-193 Wednesday to pass HR 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. This bill guts many of the core conservation measures of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the primary federal law protecting our fisheries. This legislation now awaits a companion bill in the Senate.Gulf Restoration Network has led the opposition to this bill in the five Gulf states, joining many fishermen, chefs, scientists and other groups. GRN opposes this bill because it removes science-based annual catch limits. The “flexibility” in fisheries management that this bill promises comes at the cost of abandoning what has been working for over 40 years. HR 200 threatens to undo many of the successes that the MSA has accomplished.One thing is certain, the U.S.’s fisheries are significantly healthier today than the dark years leading up to the passage of MSA when many fisheries were on the brink of collapse. Gutting the mechanisms that have made MSA so successful will inevitably be a setback in the recovery of several Gulf species. The logic used in this bill is akin to a diabetic patient stopping their insulin regimen because it is working so well controlling their blood sugar. It just doesn’t make sense.The good news is that there is still time to fight this issue as the Senate has yet to move forward on comparable legislation. Stay tuned and stay informed. Let’s fight together to make sure that the Magnuson-Stevens Act is strengthened, not weakened.
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Houston Zoo Wildlife Warrior Lady Márquez is Headed to Town!

Houston Zoo Wildlife Warrior Lady Márquez is Headed to Town! | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
This weekend, the Zoo is welcoming another special guest who is visiting us from the Galapagos Islands! Lady Márquez is here from our partners at Ecology Project International (EPI) after being chosen by the Houston Zoo admissions team as a 2017 Wildlife Warrior Award recipient.
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How Food and Retail Partner, SSA is Helping the Zoo Achieve its Wildlife Saving Mission

How Food and Retail Partner, SSA is Helping the Zoo Achieve its Wildlife Saving Mission | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
Here at the Zoo, we believe that even the smallest of actions can help to save wildlife. During the month of July, we put our staff to the test, encouraging them to participate in Plastic Free July.For 31 days, over 250 Zoo staff and volunteers challenge themselves and each other to “choose to refuse”...
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Saving Lemurs in Madagascar through Empowering the Next Generation of Wildlife Saving Heroes

Saving Lemurs in Madagascar through Empowering the Next Generation of Wildlife Saving Heroes | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
Over the past week, lucky Zoo goers may have had the pleasure of running into Dr. Jonah Ratsimbazafy, Houston Zoo’s Director of Madagascar Programs and one of the founding members of GERP, an organization saving lemurs in the wild.
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Best water safety advice: Wear a life jacket

Best water safety advice: Wear a life jacket | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
Earlier this year, a boat carrying five people swamped in Lake Livingston when it took a wave over its gunwale, filled with water, rolled and tossed the occupants into what was the churning, confused waters of the sprawling reservoir on the Trinity River about 90 miles northeast of Houston.
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Become a Tracker! Learn to identify... - Nature Discovery Center | Facebook

Become a Tracker! Learn to identify... - Nature Discovery Center | Facebook | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
Become a Tracker!

Learn to identify animals by their tracks at the Nature Discovery Center, Saturday July 28 from 11-12:30. For ages 10 +up. Rain date...
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Local High School Student is Saving Wildlife, One Bottle of Water at a Time

Local High School Student is Saving Wildlife, One Bottle of Water at a Time | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
This blog is written by Carolyn Jess, a high school student who helped us out as a guest blogger from 2013-2016 with a focus on native wildlife. Carolyn reached out to the Houston Zoo last year for advice on installing a water bottle refill station.
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New bill would hurt the fish and restaurants of the Gulf Coast [Opinion]

New bill would hurt the fish and restaurants of the Gulf Coast [Opinion] | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
H.R. 200 would roll back the successful Magnuson-Stevens Act, which has reduced overfishing and spawned a healthy industry for anglers, chefs and consumers alike.
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Houston's Memorial Park Conservancy Receives $10 Million Gift

The commitment from Robert and Emily Clay will fund the one-hundred-acre Eastern Glades project, the first phase of which is expected to be completed this summer….Source: Phil News Digest Share...
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and SCA Clean Up Parks in Two of Our Communities

and SCA Clean Up Parks in Two of Our Communities | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
As part of our ongoing partnership with the Student Conservation Association, Domtar colleagues helped the SCA clean up parks in two of our communities. Find out more.
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Learning to enjoy bird-watching in the moment

Learning to enjoy bird-watching in the moment | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
My wife, Kathy, was standing by the kitchen window one morning while watching a brown-headed nuthatch, which in characteristic behavior was working its way head-first up and down a pine tree snatching up insects.
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Q+A: Why The Harvey Health and Housing Registry Needs You

Q+A: Why The Harvey Health and Housing Registry Needs You | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
An innovative study tracking the effects of Hurricane Harvey looks for input from Houston-area residents, whether they were directly affected by the storm or not.
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Where Ocean Currents Converge

Where Ocean Currents Converge | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
The ocean has a way of bringing things together. Its many sea currents dip, dive and swirl through the Gulf of Mexico delivering critical nutrients, plants, and animals exactly where they need to be. A baby turtle slips into the tide, one of only a few to survive the short, sandy trek from the nest to water. She is immediately picked up by one of these currents and astoundingly survives the saltwater superhighway out to the open ocean. There, vast mats of sargassum seaweed have also floated to this marine meeting place.The Gulf is home to one of the most productive sargassum seaweed habitats in the world. These dark, red-brown floating algal habitats provide the food and shelter necessary for our little turtle to grow and develop alongside many other species of fish and microfauna. She has beat every odd traveling to her new home. But unfortunately, seaweed and juvenile turtles are not the only hitchhikers that ride the Gulf currents. Oil sneaks aboard the same paths and makes its way to the same open water habitats where ocean currents converge.Oil in the water and on the seaweed islands can reduce the oxygen in the water or change its temperature, stressing the young turtle as she clings to it like a life raft. Chronic exposure to oil at the surface of the water can also injure our young turtle as she surfaces to breathe. She may have survived challenges from the sea, but what about those from humans?Over the years, we’ve documented leaked oil from the Taylor Energy Company spill in and around the seaweed islands. The pollution of that habitat represents a potentially fatal experience for any other juvenile turtles who make their way there. And until recently, Taylor has denied their role in this ongoing environmental tragedy.In 2004 hurricane Ivan destroyed several oil wells off the coast of Louisiana. Some of these wells, owned by Taylor, were not repaired and continue to spill today. Taylor claims that the oil is residual. Yet, recent ROV surveys confirmed two undersea plumes—far more oil than a residual release.What’s more? Every time GRN flies over this location, we see the rainbow sheen slick for miles. Our partners at Skytruth have also been tracking the size and movement of the sheen over time. They estimate that somewhere between 855,000 and 4 million gallons of oil have spilled from the Taylor site between 2004 and 2017. Paul Orr, of the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, says that "the Taylor Oil spill is emblematic of a broken system, where oil production is prioritized over concerns for human health and the environment." And although federal authorities have acknowledged this type of harm, specific response surveys must be designed to document the health of Gulf sea turtles and their rate of exposure. Coastal and open ocean habitats and the species who live there continue to be at risk. It is urgent that advocates assist agencies by documenting all impacts to wildlife. According to the Waterkeeper Alliance, “a finding by government agencies that the Taylor oil spill cannot be abated raises serious questions about the nation's ability to manage the risks from deepwater drilling.” Expanded offshore drilling could become a reality for every coastal state in this nation. It is vital that we do not let the story of the Taylor oil spill, or the resulting loss of sea turtle habitat associated with it, be swept under the rug as it has been for the past fourteen years. Right now there is still enough oil at the Taylor site that, if left alone as proposed, the leak could continue soiling floating seaweed habitat for a hundred years. That is one hundred years of ongoing habitat loss. One hundred years of oil and gas companies not taking responsibility. One hundred years of government protections that fail to protect our seas and the special places where ocean currents converge. “When the oil industry claims that offshore drilling is safe, remember this video and share it. While the Trump administration is planning to open up the Atlantic Ocean along the East Coast and the Arctic, remember...Speak truth to power and share this video.” - Jonathan Henderson, Vanishing Earth
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No Museum for Trees, but Plenty of Gravel for the Parking Lot

No Museum for Trees, but Plenty of Gravel for the Parking Lot | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
For the “Too Long; Didn’t Read” folks (you're missing out, but still check out the video and graphics below): Clearing floodplain forests for sand and gravel mining sets off a chain reaction that reduces the ability to temporarily store water, which increases the severity of a flooding event, which increases recovery time. Simultaneously, and/or stemming from these events:An overflowing river can change course by flowing into an abandoned floodplain mining pit that is too close to the channel. Over time, the river begins to straighten, which increases water velocity, leading to more aggressive erosion of the riverbank. These occurrences create an unstable habitat for wildlife and increase the severity of a flooding event, again increasing recovery time. Riverbank erosion also pushes sediment downstream, which increases flooding risk downstream.The Whole Story:Until recently, I didn’t know that abandoned sand and gravel mines along the Amite River contributed to the 2016 floods in Baton Rouge, Denham Springs, Watson, and surrounding areas. I only learned about this issue when a classmate in the LSU Landscape Architecture program, Victoria Gough, presented her senior project on how to restore these abandoned sites to their natural, forested condition to act as flood buffers and to serve as areas for kayaking, fishing, and swimming. Victoria’s research during the last year of her studies helped her to understand how “60 years of floodplain sand and gravel mining has played a dominant role in the evolution of the Amite River.”Reclaiming Abandoned Mines (Credit: Victoria Gough, RRSLA)Having grown up along the Amite, but now a Landscape Designer at Pharis Design in Austin, Texas, Victoria explained that her family’s experience in the 2016 floods motivated her to study this issue. After nearly two years, Victoria’s family is still working to repair damage from three feet of water in their home.While the precipitating factor of the 2016 floods was an unrelenting storm that dumped over 20 inches of rain over three days on East Baton Rouge and neighboring parishes, the resulting flash floods from the overflowing Comite and Amite Rivers caused devastating damage – nearly “50,000 to 75,000 structures flooded… and 13 people [dead].” * Part of the reason the rivers overflowed into nearby, low-lying neighborhoods was because of direct and indirect effects of sand and gravel mining in the rivers’ floodplains. An important industry in this region, these mines are necessarily located near rivers because sand and gravel deposits naturally occur in floodplains. While the act of sand and gravel mining itself does not cause flooding, three critical factors associated with floodplain mining contribute to the likelihood that the adjacent river will cause significant damage when inundated:Floodplain forest clearing;Mining pit proximity to river channel; and Mine abandonment without restoration or filling. 1. Trees, Make Way: Accessing sand and gravel deposits requires clearing the floodplain forests, which are buffers between land and water. These wetlands perform several essential tasks, such as: Helping to absorb excess water when the river is overwhelmed;Slowing the river’s current; andReducing riverbank erosion by anchoring sediment with roots. 2. Heading for Rock Bottom: Mining creates deep pits, and since water always seeks the lowest point, mining in the floodplain too close to the river invites trouble. The video below, by Little River Research & Design, helps explain what can happen when a river meets a floodplain mine pit. Here are over-simplified explanations of a few technical terms:Pit Capture: When an overflowing river finds a mining pit in the floodplain close enough to the original channel, it rushes to fill the pit and, consequently, causes the river’s course to change. Hungry Water: The river normally carries suspended sediment particles, which help to ‘weigh’ down the water, but as the river fills the pit, this sediment drops and also begins to fill the mine, allowing the water to become lighter and to move more quickly and more aggressively downstream of the pit. Headcut / Incision: The water cutting away at the riverbank, eroding the sediment. Homes downstream and built close to the river are in danger of falling in as the base of the riverbank is cut away. 3. Left Wide Open: Decades of lax regulation of the sand and gravel mining industry in Louisiana have led to many mines being abandoned without restoration or even without being filled. Having seen the video, we now know why this is a bad idea.The dangers of abandoned floodplain mines were not only acknowledged by the Louisiana statute RS 30:905.1 (Abandoned Mine Reclamation), but also led to studies commissioned by former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The statute even provides that there is supposed to be money (somewhere) to reclaim these mines. Even for those of us who have grown up near rivers, it’s easy to forget how powerful a river is until it suddenly swells and rises during periods of heavy rain, surging down and threatening to spill out of the usual confines of its channel. Remembering this will help us to seek and advocate for solutions to preventable situations, such as ones abandoned mines threaten to create. I think we can agree with Victoria: “…I hope with the research and understanding of the Amite, this won’t happen to anybody again.” *Advocate Staff Report. "What caused the historic August 2016 flood, and what are the odds it could happen again?" The Advocate 5 August 2017. .
CEC Houston's insight:

W have gravel and sand pits along the San Jacinto river north of Lake Houston.   Miners are not required to restore them. This increases the turbidity of our drinking water  is one of the most expensive aspects of water treatment. 

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Why Texas should ban plastic bags [Opinion]

Why Texas should ban plastic bags [Opinion] | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
Bans work. They make us use less plastic, and the Earth is telling us loudly that it can't take much more.
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Straws

Straws | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
Events Events Related Events Related Events Bowling For Rhinos Sat Aug 11 CDT 140 guests Tue Aug 7 CDT at 1827 W Alabama St, Houston, TX 77098-2601 73 guests Thu Aug 23 CDT at Houston-Galveston Area Council 9 guests Blood Moon Bat Paddle Fri Jul 27 CDT at Fonde Recreation Center 189 guests Sunday CDT at Houston Dairymaids 19 guests Own Your Power Workshop Sat Aug 11 CDT at Green Building Resource Center, Houston, TX 61 guests English (US) · Français (France) · Español · Português (Brasil) · Deutsch Privacy · Terms · Advertising · Ad Choices · Cookies · More Facebook © 2018 JUL 18 Straws Public · Hosted by Houston GREEN Film Series and 3 others clock Wednesday, July 18 at 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM CDT Starts in about 12 hours · 35°C Mostly Sunny pin Rice Cinema Rice University Entrance #8 University and Stockton, Houston, Texas 77005 Show Map 62 Going · 306 Interested Share this event with your friends
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Houston Flood Museum – Off the Kuff

Houston Flood Museum – Off the Kuff | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
[Lacy] Johnson, a published author and Rice assistant professor, started writing to process the post-disaster “dissonance” she observed. The resulting essays published on Facebook quickly garnered hundreds of reactions and shares. It wasn’t long before the Houston Endowment approached her about harnessing that work for something greater. Now, as the one-year anniversary of Harvey approaches, Johnson is part of a collaborative effort behind the Houston Flood Museum, an institution she says will “think about our collective relationship to land, one another, urban planning, the water, and see how we can move on together.” In cooperation with the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, FotoFest, Houston Public Library, the Trust for Public Land, and more, the museum seeks to process and memorialize the experience of flooding through stories and art. The initial focus will be on flooding related to Harvey. This August, HFM will begin collecting submissions of audio and photos and poems and pretty much anything else that can be curated and archived. Houston Public Media will contribute a multipart video series of local leaders looking back on the storm, as well as an additional podcast series that puts Harvey in historical context. Rice will preserve much of the material as part of the ongoing Harvey Memories Project. And while there are plans for pop-up exhibitions across the city, Johnson says a permanent brick-and-mortar presence is not in the cards. “We’re kind of nomadic and ephemeral,” Johnson says about the museum. “I like to think about it using the flood as a metaphor: We’re inundating spaces for a short time, and then we recede.”
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Houston Ship Channel Tour: Fenceline Communities | OffCite Blog

Houston Ship Channel Tour: Fenceline Communities | OffCite Blog | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
In March 2018, Houston hosted the Funders' Network Annual Conference to explore strategies for and stories behind creating more equitable, sustainable, and resilient communities. Rice Design Alliance created five tours in collaboration with the Funders' Network for people interested in getting a...
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Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center — Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center — Texas Parks & Wildlife Department | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
Things to Do The primary activities at the lake unit are fishing and wildlife observation. Sheldon Lake is open every day to public fishing with appropriate licenses. Boats must not exceed headway speed while operating on the lake; they may be launched at the south boat ramp on Pineland Road. Bank fishing is permitted year-round. Activities at the State Park and Environmental Learning Center include group programming, birding, wildlife/nature study, hiking, and fishing for children. The park (open daily) includes a 0.5-mile self-guided nature trail that passes 28 naturalized ponds that contain alligators and other wildlife. (Binoculars are recommended for best viewing.) Free catch-and-release family fishing is permitted for children accompanied by adults, in the two fishing ponds. Alternative energy technologies and green building techniques (photovoltaic, solar hot water, wind turbine and ground coupled-geothermal) are demonstrated at the Pond Center. A wildscape demonstration garden shows techniques for using native plants and wildflowers to attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife to your backyard. Kids, become a Discovery Agent! Download the app at home, then use it to move and learn at the park. Alligators live in the park; read our alligator safety tips. John Jacob Observation Tower: One of the newest park features, this 82-foot tower allows visitors to see incredible unobstructed panoramas of the surrounding wetland and lake, the park’s restored prairie, and even the downtown Houston skyline and the San Jacinto Monument - each 15-plus miles away in opposite directions. The lofty tower views can be accessed via a solar-powered elevator or stairs, leading to two observation decks. This unique tower was funded almost entirely by private donations, and is named in honor of former Anheuser Busch executive John Jacob. Take a virtual tour with our interactive trails map. Ranger Programs  Tours/Programs:  The park offers a variety of nature and ecology programs to organized groups on a reservation basis. Park staff and volunteers provide programs on nature/ecology, nature walks, catch-and-release fishing in two stocked ponds (fishing poles provided), pond ecology, native plant gardening, hunter education, composting and recycling. Programs range in time from one to two hours each. Without special arrangements, group size is limited to 50 children. Teachers and chaperones must accompany the group in at least a 1-to-10 ratio. Teachers: This is a Texas Aquatic Science Certified Field Site. Tawny crazy ants, an exotic invasive species, are in the park. These ants do not sting. TPWD is working with experts to reduce the number of ants without harming the park’s other wildlife. Learn more about invasive ants. Volunteer Opportunities For information on volunteer opportunities at Sheldon Lake, contact the park at (281) 456-2800. Go to the Volunteer Opportunities page for information on the many volunteering options available at state parks and historic sites. Area Attractions Nearby attractions include the San Jacinto Battleground Historic Complex, which consists of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, the San Jacinto Monument, and the Battleship Texas State Historic Site; Lake Houston Park; NASA's Johnson Space Center; Mercer Arboretum; Houston Zoological Gardens; and the Houston Museum District.
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Houston restaurants getting sucked into plastic straw debate

Houston restaurants getting sucked into plastic straw debate | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
The environmental impact of plastic straws has the local food and beverage industry looking for alternatives.
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"A Multitude of Approaches" to Flood Mitigation: An Interview with County Engineer John Blount | OffCite Blog

"A Multitude of Approaches" to Flood Mitigation: An Interview with County Engineer John Blount | OffCite Blog | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
John Blount is the County Engineer and leader of the Harris County Engineering Department. Steve Albert is an editorial committee member of Cite and principal with Sherwood Design Engineers, a civil engineering firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Houston that has performed work for...
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Getting ready for the different... - Keep Houston Beautiful | Facebook

Getting ready for the different community projects! Time for tool, supply and mulch pick-up!
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Austin drops its bag ban – Off the Kuff

Austin drops its bag ban – Off the Kuff | Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston) | Scoop.it
The City of Austin says it will no longer enforce a ban on single-use plastic bags at most retail outlets, following a state Supreme Court ruling last month that struck down Laredo’s bag ban. The court ruled Laredo’s ban was at odds with state law, but urged the Legislature to pass more specific laws to allow similar bans in the future. The Texas Health and Safety Code says that local governments in Texas may not “prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.” Opponents of bag bans argued that language makes the bans illegal, and the court agreed, saying state lawmakers haven’t effectively defined how plastic bags fit into that regulatory framework. […] “Following the recent ruling from the Texas Supreme Court, the City will not enforce our current rules,” a city spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “While it’s disappointing that the City is losing a tool to help protect the environment, we are also confident that the Austin community will continue to do their best to minimize plastic bag waste. Meanwhile, the City of Austin will continue to educate Austinites about the benefits of bringing reuseable bags with them every time they shop.” Austin officials say prohibiting retailers from giving away disposable plastic bags helped reduce litter, save wildlife and stop bags from clogging up storm drains. “The people of Austin have gotten used to this. Not a single job was lost. Not a single business was harmed,” said Andrew Dobbs with Texas Campaign for the Environment. “We hope businesses and residents of this city will continue to do what works, regardless of what the Texas Supreme Court says.”
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