greater houston

zero waste and climate action

As the third largest city in the country and a global leader in energy and business, Houston has enormous potential to set a positive example for other cities in environmental policy. A circular economy has been one of the main issues at the heart of our focus at TCE. We understand that recycling alone will not resolve our environmental issues – it is just the start.

Texas Campaign for the Environment and our allies in the Houston Climate Movement coalition rallied to have 21st century programs and initiatives be included in Houston’s Climate Action Plan and the solid waste long-range plan, and we won! Houston expanded its potential and commitment to residents in 2020, by including goals to extend recycling to multi-family housing, reduce food waste, create systems to turn waste-to-energy.

In 2019, Houstonians rallied to keep curbside recycling clean and free of contaminants, while holding the City of Houston accountable for commingling waste and recycling. This overwhelming outcry from TCE and its supporters lead to the Solid Waste department conducting an audit and publishing a long-range plan for more transparent actions.

However, the Climate Action Plan and Solid Waste Plan fall short of creating a resilient and sustainable environment in an appropriate time frame. The plans miss the mark for transparency, inclusion, and resident lead approaches.

There are still many more steps to go. Food and organic waste accounts for a third of what we throw in landfills, where it becomes responsible for 18% of methane greenhouse gas emissions nationwide. Illegal dumping affects many neighborhoods with blight, but city enforcers cannot keep up with violators. To address the waste problem at its source, cities like Los Angeles, New York, San Antonio, San Marcos, Austin and Dallas have also passed long-term solid waste policies to reduce trash going to landfills and incinerators by 60%-90%, creating thousands of jobs in the process.

Zero Waste cities advocate for better product and packaging design by reducing single-use bags and partnering with manufacturers to recycle hazardous products such as e-waste. These programs are part of what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls “sustainable materials management,” a path toward a circular economy that conserves natural resources with products that are healthy for people and the planet.

Get Involved in Houston Climate Action: We’re building a movement by collaborating with residents, allies, and community leaders to advocate for stronger, more transparent, and inclusive climate action. Here are some of the priorities we’re working on to reduce climate change emissions and empower communities and residents to decide the future for Houston:

• Reduce pollution and promote electrification in buildings, which will save businesses and residents money on energy costs

• Transition to all-city, medical, and academic transportation vehicles to electric or hybrid.

• Promote and invest in local clean energy projects, like community solar

• Require food businesses to keep surplus food out of the landfill by donating or composting (see “Plastic & Food Waste” below)

Like and follow the Zero Waste Houston Facebook page and get more involved with Zero Waste in our community.

Read Houston’s proposed long-range solid waste management plan here.

This is a comprehensive plan that addresses the future financial sustainability of the Solid Waste Management Department, the various waste and recycling services to be provided, future waste reduction efforts, possible future landfill needs, and illegal dumping issues.

Read Houston’s Climate Action Plan here.

public land

drilling on public land

Millions of acres of public lands are currently leased for oil and gas drilling. For decades, private companies have taken advantage of an outdated system that is tilted in favor of the oil and gas industry and against taxpayers. These oil and gas companies drive the process to lease the public’s land, pay extremely low bid rates, and leave millions of idle leased acres off limits to other uses.

While this is happening, the general public is often left in the dark. The federal government’s system for tracking key oil and gas development information on public lands is inadequate and onerous.

Texas Campaign for the Environment in partnership with Texas Southern University conducted a geospatial analysis to shine a light on the outdated leasing process across the Gulf Coast. The analysis mapped all federal oil and gas extraction points, pipeline miles, and identified instances where public lands leases were sold within dangerously close proximity to established communities. Through relationships with academic institutions, allies and concerned community members we have created the first steps to make this information available and accessible to the public to fight against environmental injustice and degradation in communities across the region.

oil export

oil export pollution

From 1975 until 2015, the U.S. banned exports of crude oil in the interests of U.S. energy independence. In 2015, that ban was lifted under pressure from fossil fuel companies that wanted to profit even more from fracking.

Now big corporations are rushing proposals to build almost a dozen oil and gas export facilities along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. If these facilities were built and the exported fossil fuels burned, these terminals would worsen climate change chaos around the world. Spills, water and air pollution and potential explosions would put at risk people’s lives and the bays, beaches, and Gulf. Fish, dolphins, sea turtles, sea grasses and other sea life make the Gulf special and full of life. Export terminals and the associated oil and gas pipelines threaten our communities and the environment.

You can help stop this attack on the Gulf. Raise your voice to oppose new and expanding oil export facilities!