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Bay Area | Houston Environmental Forums

Local Pollution and Your Health Forum

A third Bay Area/Houston event, the Local Pollution and Your Health Forum, was a major opportunity for Houston region residents to learn about and discuss Bay Area/Houston pollution incidents, risks to our health, and recommendations to better protect our families. Triggered by the infamous International Terminals Company (ITC) fire’s air and water pollution and less known Bayport Kirby Barge collision’s water and air pollution, the forum featured varied perspectives about the extreme pollution events to help attendees better understand risks and potential impacts to health.

Eight speakers, including Environment Institute of Houston's Director George Guillen and moderator, provided information not available during the emergency incidents and generally not available in news media until months after the events. Air Alliance Houston, Sierra Club Houston, Environmental Defense Fund, Galveston Bay Foundation, Harris County Pollution Control Office, Harris County Environmental Health, Environmental Institute of Houston, and Houston Chronicle each added key perspectives.

Attendees were encouraged and energized to dig in to learn more about dangerous incidents like the ITC fire and Bayport barge collusion and resulting pollutant releases, potential toxic impact on health and process issues including risk assessment and timely alerts.

Our collaboration of organizations and volunteers is truly a grassroots effort. Going forward, we encourage the public to get involved in helping the Houston region make best decisions for regional issues including flood mitigation, pollution and environmental protection, transportation improvement, etc. Citizens need to take action to ensure wise expenditure of public funds, transparency for public knowledge and effective public input into government decisions.

The forum, which took place on June 25, 2019, was organized by the Houston Region Concerned Citizens and sponsored in part by the Sierra Club of Houston.

Panel Topics & Presentations Speaker
Welcome and Introductions Doug Peterson, Houston Region Concerned Citizens
Dr. George Guillen, Environmental Institute of Houston
Overview of ITC & Bayport Dr. Latrice Babin, Harris County Pollution Control Services
Tracking Emissions from Emergency Releases Lucy Randel, Air Alliance Houston
Monitoring ITC Fire & Bayport Channel Collision Crises Nick Ellis & Sarah Gossett Robinson, Galveston Bay Foundation
Air Quality and Health Impacts Katie Moore, Environmental Defense Fund
Need Texas & Houston Health Studies Melanie Oldham, Sierra Club Houston Group
Recent Pollution Incidents Perla Treviso, Houston Chronicle
Environmental Health Dr. Sherri Onyiego, Harris County Environmental
Q&A Panelists

2019 Bay Area | Houston Storm Water Flooding Forum

Through initial planning with the Environmental Institute of Houston, and support from Sierra Club Houston Group, Galveston Bay Foundation, Americans United in Action and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Houston, the Houston Region Concerned Citizens (HRCC) grassroots organization brought together experts and community leaders to discuss plans, schedules, issues such as limited public engagement and transparency, options and solutions to better protect Bay Area communities and coastal regions from the next major hurricane storm surge.

Two plans were presented and discussed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study and the Galveston Bay Park Plan surge proposal by Jim Blackburn of Rice University’s SSPEED Center. Multiple organizations addressed environmental issues and surge protection options. The forum concluded with substantive panel discussion.

The second major flood forum in the Bay Area Houston was again organized to help the general public increase understanding of critical flood issues, proposals and options to better support plans that meet the broad public interests. Recent history of Hurricane Harvey, its disastrous impacts, extreme pollution and governance failures make it clear all levels of democracy need to take action to provide storm surge protection. From the homeowner and renter up to local, state and federal elected officials, all are responsible to take actions to ensure effective, affordable, appropriate actions to protect the people of southeast Texas from hurricane storm surge flooding.

The forum took place on March 7, 2019, at the Bay Area Community Center, a Harris County facility managed by Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia.

Panel Topics & Presentations Speaker
Welcome and Introductions Doug Peterson, Houston Region Concerned Citizens
Coastal TX Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study Dr. Kelly Burks-Copes, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and David Green, Texas General Land Office
Galveston Bay Park Plan Jim Blackburn, SPEED Center, Rice University
Coastal Barrier:​ Observations, Concerns, Comments Bob Stokes, Galveston Bay Foundation
Why Coastal Texas Plan Must Change Brandt Mannchen, Sierra Club Houston Group
Day the Dike Breaks Dr. John Jacob, Texas Coastal Watershed Program
Sage Solutions: Working with Nature Jordan Macha, Bayou City Waterkeeper
Questions and Answers Panelists
Closing Comments Doug Peterson

2017 Houston | Bay Area Storm Water Flooding Forum

The Environmental Institute of Houston, along with Americans United in Action, Houston Region Concerned Citizens (HRCC), and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Houston, brought together experts and community leaders to discuss the problems, challenges, and solutions surrounding the Houston region’s catastrophic flooding from major rain and hurricane storm surge. Speakers addressed critical issues, discussed past mistakes, and presented proposals for protecting Houston region and Bay Area residents from dangerous, deadly storms like hurricanes Harvey and Ike. The forum took place on November 28, 2017, at the Gilruth Center at NASA Johnson Space Center.

Panel 1

Panel 1 Topics & Presentations Speaker
Welcome and Introductions Dr. George Guillen, UHCL Environmental Institute of Houston
Global Warming/Climate Change and Hurricane Harvey? Dr. André Droxler, Rice University
Hurricane Harvey Impacts Stephen Costello, City of Houston
Planning for Community Resilience Dr. John Jacob, Texas Coastal Watershed Program
Looking for Answers – Exploration Green John Branch, Clear Lake City Water Authority
Resilience: Going Beyond Recovery Lisa Gonzalez, Houston Advanced Research

Panel 2

Panel 2 Topics & Presentations Speaker
Storm Surge Protection Concepts & Concerns Bob Stokes, Galveston Bay Foundation
Potential Environmental Impacts of a Coastal Barrier Project Brandt Mannchen, Sierra Club
Coastal Atlas and Storm Surge Protection Col. Len Waterworth (ret.), Texas A&M University at Galveston
Let’s Talk About Flooding in the Bay Area Jim Blackburn, Rice University

*All content posted on this page does not necessarily reflect the views/opinions of the Environmental Institute of Houston or the university.