Earth Day: Analyzing Houston’s Environmental Successes And Shortcomings

How well has Houston responded to environmental issues as the city’s population continues to grow? One researchers says certain approaches have worked and while other areas could use improvement.


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University of Houston professor Martin Melosi has been analyzing the city’s environmental issues for about 30 years. He says flooding has long been a concern for the region, but Houston has developed better responses like the bayous.

“I do think that we have probably applied more modern technology and new modern approaches to dealing with it than we had 30 years ago,” Melosi says.

But he says Houston falls short in other areas, namely air quality. He says oil and gas and petrochemical operations contribute to the pollution. But as the growing population brings more vehicles, Melosi says Houston hasn’t kept pace with maintaining clean air.

“That’s been kind of a consistent problem for Houston as an automobile city, especially ozone, and I don’t think we’ve really tackled that very effectively,” he says.

Melosi says it won’t be easy to establish sustainability while maintaining economic interests, but he says it’s important to continue the dialogue.

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