18 October 2016

The Monitor- LNG Hearing

Texas LNG hearing audio released

By Jonathan Salinas

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has released audio of the public meeting held last Tuesday with Texas LNG where they received questions and comments from residents concerning the necessary air-quality permitting application at the state level.
State Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, requested the meeting after being lobbied by constituents to do so, according to Oliveira, who was in attendance.
Activists representing Save RGV from LNG and the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club held a rally and press conference prior to the meeting at WashingtonPark.
The meeting was composed of two parts: an informal question and answer period and a formal on-the-record period wherein comments and questions made will be responded to by the TCEQ in a comprehensive document titled Executive Director’s Response to Comments.
Only the formal, on-the-record portion of the meeting was released by TCEQ.
Below are questions from the activists and responses from the TCEQ panel composed of technical reviewer Joel Klumpp, environmental lawyer Sierra Redding, representative from the Public Interest Council Garrett Arthur and Texas LNG Project Manager David Blessner.

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The Associated Press- Limiting Hydrofluorocarbons

Global deal reached to limit powerful greenhouse gases

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Nearly 200 nations have reached a deal, announced Saturday morning after all-night negotiations, to limit the use of greenhouse gases far more powerful than carbon dioxide in a major effort to fight climate change.
The talks on hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, were called the first test of global will since the historic Paris Agreement to cut carbon emissions was reached last year. HFCs are described as the world's fastest-growing climate pollutant and are used in air conditioners and refrigerators. Experts say cutting them is the fastest way to reduce global warming.
President Barack Obama, in a statement Saturday, called the new deal "an ambitious and far-reaching solution to this looming crisis." The spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it "critically important."
The agreement, unlike the broader Paris one, is legally binding. It caps and reduces the use of HFCs in a gradual process beginning by 2019 with action by developed countries including the United States, the world's second-worst polluter. More than 100 developing countries, including China, the world's top carbon emitter, will start taking action by 2024, when HFC consumption levels should peak.
A small group of countries including India, Pakistan and some Gulf states pushed for and secured a later start in 2028, saying their economies need more time to grow. That's three years earlier than India, the world's third-worst polluter, had first proposed.
"It's a very historic moment, and we are all very delighted that we have come to this point where we can reach a consensus and agree to most of the issues that were on the table," said India's chief delegate, Ajay Narayan Jha.

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The Monitor- Saving the Monarch

Saving the monarch


SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — It’s safe to say almost everyone loves monarch butterflies. So, now they are going to get their own safe space on the Island.
City leaders have agreed to create a habitat for monarch butterflies so they have a protected place to stop during their 3,000-mile migratory journey.
Millions of monarch butterflies make their way to central Mexico for the winter, traveling from the Rockies.
At a recent City Council meeting, Island officials agreed to create a lush and vibrant monarch butterfly habitat — a goal that the South Padre Island City Council had in mind.
The proposed site of the habitat is the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center.
The council approved signing the National Wildlife Federation Mayor’s Monarch Pledge.
The National Wildlife Federation is a voice for wildlife, dedicated to protecting wildlife and habitat and inspiring future generations of conservationists.
“I’m looking forward to the projects that we will do and to help increase awareness at the homeowner and business level about monarch butterflies,” SPI Councilwoman Theresa Metty said.
The Mayor’s Monarch Pledge consists of 25 possible action items, of which the mayor and local government chief executives, who have taken the pledge, must commit to at least three within one year.

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20 August 2016

The Monitor - Conservation Workshop

Soil and Irrigation Conservation Workshop slated for Aug. 24


WESLACO – Agricultural producers throughout the Rio Grande Valley are invited to spend half a day with soil, water and farming operations experts who will offer expertise on new technologies in soil and water management, as well as funding opportunities and financial technical support for farming operations, organizers say.
The Soil and Irrigation Conservation Workshop will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.
The center is located at 2401 E. U.S. Highway 83 in Weslaco. Breakfast and registration begin at 8 a.m. and speakers begin at
8:30 a.m.
“The objective of this educational event is to present research-based information to growers on new technologies that we are already using and others we will soon be using to help growers better manage their soil and water resources,” said Dr. Juan Enciso, the Texas A&M AgriLife Research irrigation engineer in Weslaco.
Enciso said weather stations that calculate heat and chilling units, among other parameters, provide data to an online site that growers can use to better schedule irrigation on a variety of crops, including sugarcane, citrus, corn, cotton, onions and watermelons.
The site can be found at http://southtexasweather.tamu.edu .
“The website also provides historical weather data that one can download,” he said. “This can be especially useful in making a variety of decisions, especially when and how much to irrigate, depending on assorted conditions.”
Enciso said another application will soon be added to the system to calculate water requirements for turf irrigation in urban areas.
“While we’re anxious to share the information we’ve developed and invite growers to use our internet site, we also need the grower input and feedback about our programs,” he said. “They are the end-users and their experiences and opinions are very important in improving our assistance to them.”
Speakers and topics include:
-- Rolando Zamora, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Raymondville, welcome and moderator.
-- Enciso, Victor Gutierrez, AgriLife Extension Texas Water Resources Institute, Weslaco, Internet Weather-Based Tools for Irrigation Management.
-- James Henderson, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service agronomist, Corpus Christi, “Soil Health for Maximum Productivity.
-- Ray Hinojosa, USDA NRCS district conservationist, Harlingen, USDA-NRCS Programs.
-- Dr. Ismael E. Badillo-Vargas, Texas A&M AgriLife Research insect vector entomologist, Weslaco, Concepts in Integrated Pest Management.
-- Dr. Enrique Perez, AgriLife Extension county agent for Cameron County, San Benito, Nutrient Management.
-- Chris Perez, USDA-Farm Service Agency county executive director, Harlingen, USDA-FSA Commodity Program.
-- Ricardo Chapa, Texas State Soil, Water Conservation Board regional manager, McAllen, Texas State Soil and Conservation Board.
-- Arnulfo Lerma, USDA-FSA farm loan manager, McAllen, USDA-FMA Farm Loan Programs.
-- Vidal Saenz, Prairie View Cooperative Extension agent, Edinburg, Technical Assistance with FSA Farm Loan Applications.
Enciso said three Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units will be available.
For more information, contact your county AgriLife Extension office. In Hidalgo County call Saenz at 956-383-1026; in Cameron County call Perez at 956-361-8236; or in Willacy County, Rolando Zamora at 956-689-2412.

15 August 2016

The Brownsville Herald- Starr County Wind Farm

Wind farm project completed in Starr County


NEAR RIO GRANDE CITY — The latest phase of a wind farm project is now fully operational in Starr County.
Duke Energy Renewables completed its third stage of Los Vientos, which began in 2013.
In Starr County, the company completed stages III, IV, and V, of the project for a total of 426 turbines in the area. The first two Los Vientos projects are located in Willacy County, where the company constructed 171 turbines.
Vestas Wind Systems, a Danish manufacturer of wind turbines supplied 100 V110-2.0 MW turbines for Los Vientos IV and will service the project under a three-year operations and maintenance agreement.
Duke Energy has installed more than 1,500 megawatts of wind energy in the state, which is more than double the wind capacity it owns in other states combined.
“With 500 MW of that total in Starr County, we’d like to thank county leaders and our business partners for helping us deliver clean, low-cost renewable energy to South Texas customers and provide economic benefits to this region,” Rob Caldwell, president of Duke Energy, said in a news release.
“Duke Energy has been a great partner and member of our community,” Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, stated in the release. “We look forward to continuing with them to provide more wind farm opportunities for our residences.”

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The Brownsville Herald - Potential Business for Harlingen Port

Mexico’s new energy policy could be boon for Harlingen port


HARLINGEN — Driven by industrial and power sector demand, the Mexican government is moving to deregulate its energy industry, providing new openings for U.S. gasoline, natural gas and other fuels.
Walker Smith, director of the Port of Harlingen, said the move to deregulate its energy sector could make the Port of Harlingen a much bigger player when it comes to unloading oil, diesel, propane and similar products from barges and putting them into rail or truck tankers for transport across the border.
Mexico’s state petroleum industry, Pemex, can’t keep up with the increasing demand, Smith said.
“I’m getting calls constantly about companies wanting to come into the Port of Harlingen because of where we’re situated and to take advantage of the Los Indios bridge crossing,” he said. Delays there are far shorter than at other border bridge crossings like Reynosa’s.
Smith, speaking before the Harlingen Economic Development Corp. earlier this month, said U.S. companies are prepared to move aggressively to capture a portion of the opening energy market in Mexico. 

19 July 2016

The Texas Tribune-Agribusinesses polluting waters

How corporate agribusinesses are fouling our waters

When most people think of water pollution, they think of pipes dumping toxic chemicals. But a new report quantifies another threat to our water quality: factory farms.
The study from Environment Texas Research & Policy Center shows that big agribusinesses are among the state’s largest water polluters, with Tyson leading the way in the nation.
Using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the report documents the “pollution footprint” of Tyson and four other major agribusinesses, making up an estimated 44 percent of the chicken, beef and pork produced in the United States.
By concentrating thousands of animals on factory farms and slaughtering animals by the millions in big processing plants, corporate agribusinesses create industrial-scale pollution with disastrous consequences for waterways here in Texas and across the country.
In fact, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, agriculture is the probable cause for making more than 690 miles of rivers and streams across the state too polluted for swimming, fishing, drinking or maintaining healthy wildlife.

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