Texas probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when talk turns to environmental responsibility, but the state has its fair share of activists and defenders. One of Texas’s chief environmental concerns is air pollution, particularly from vehicle emissions.
Since most of Texas’s big cities sprawl into outlying wide-open spaces, cars are the preferred method of transportation. The state’s steady increase in population has become problematic for environmentalists. Air pollution concerns in Texas’s cosmopolitan areas have prompted ozone alerts, and Houston has been jockeying with Los Angeles for the coveted title of “smoggiest city.”
Other troublesome issues for Texas environmental activists are water pollution and unsafe waste disposal. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a state agency dedicated to protecting Texas’s natural resources, oversees a multitude of monitoring efforts and public awareness campaigns designed to maintain control over potentially dangerous environmental hazards. The agency’s air monitoring endeavors, water conservation districts, and efforts to keep tabs on industrial waste are commendable, but don’t always reach citizens at the local level.
That’s where grassroots organizations like the Texas Campaign for the Environment come into play. The group’s mission is to inform and mobilize Texans to maintain their quality of life and health. Their primary focus is improving trash and recycling policies to limit air, water, and soil pollution.
The indomitable Texas spirit is also represented in the environmental activism scene. PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) spearheded a project called the Texas Toxic Tour. It highlights more than 20 locations throughout the state identified as environmental problem areas. The group’s informative and entertaining website—featuring a state map with site locations marked by skull-and-crossbones—features stories from Texans living next to the chemical plants, toxic waste sites, and polluting industries. The organization’s goal is to educate the public about ways environmental hazards impact individual Texas residents.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition