“They’re still dying”: Neighbors contend with rail yard after decades of contamination.

A railroad yard asked the state to limit its environmental responsibility to clean up more than 30 years of toxic waste. The community it neighbored didn’t know anything was wrong. In this historically black neighborhood, it seems everyone knows someone who died of cancer or had the disease themselves. Now, they’re coming to terms with how a plume of creosote lurking below may have affected their lives — and could still be polluting their homes today. 

Impact: After the story published, state regulators asked Union Pacific to test the air in homes affected by contamination. Then, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee held a town hall to push for a health study on the contamination. Four months later, the Texas Department of State Health Services found a cancer cluster in the areas surrounding the rail yard in August. But, the public didn’t find out about the cancer cluster study until much later, due to a failure by state agencies to notify city officials.

One Houston neighborhood is putting Texas’ air quality rules to the test. It’s losing.

Acres Homes residents are trying to stop a company from building a concrete batch plant in the heart of their neighborhood. But despite impressive community organization, Texas’ environmental agency keeps moving the air emissions permit request forward. Residents are blocked at every turn by a web of complex rules to fight back. In Houston, where no zoning means anyone can build anywhere, the community is wondering: Do any of their efforts even matter? Or is the state’s public participation process just for show? 

Follow up: TCEQ refers Acres Homes concrete batch plant dispute to state hearing

Swallowed in paperwork, Texas steel products firms lose customers while Trump’s tariffs drag on.

When the steel tariffs were first enacted last March, the Commerce Department anticipated only 4,500 requests would be filed each year. It received over 66,000. Nearly four out of five exemption requests filed by Texas companies remain unprocessed.


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Erin Douglas is the economy reporter for the Houston Chronicle. She interned for Bloomberg in 2018 and for her hometown newspaper, The Denver Post, in 2017.