Energy Metropolis: An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast / Edition 1by Martin V. Melosi
Pub. Date: 06/11/2007
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Houston's meteoric rise from a bayou trading post to the world's leading oil supplier owes much to its geography, geology, and climate: the large natural port of Galveston Bay, the lush subtropical vegetation, the abundance of natural resources. But the attributes that have made it attractive for industry, energy, and urban development have also made it
Houston's meteoric rise from a bayou trading post to the world's leading oil supplier owes much to its geography, geology, and climate: the large natural port of Galveston Bay, the lush subtropical vegetation, the abundance of natural resources. But the attributes that have made it attractive for industry, energy, and urban development have also made it particularly susceptible to a variety of environmental problems. Energy Metropolis presents a comprehensive history of the development of Houston, examining the factors that have facilitated unprecedented growth-and the environmental cost of that development.
The landmark Spindletop strike of 1901 made inexpensive high-grade Texas oil the fuel of choice for ships, industry, and the infant automobile industry. Literally overnight, oil wells sprang up around Houston. In 1914, the opening of the Houston Ship Channel connected the city to the Gulf of Mexico and international trade markets. Oil refineries sprouted up and down the channel, and the petroleum products industry exploded. By the 1920s, Houston also became a leading producer of natural gas, and the economic opportunities and ancillary industries created by the new energy trade led to a population boom. By the end of the twentieth century, Houston had become the fourth largest city in America.
Houston's expansion came at a price, however. Air, water, and land pollution reached hazardous levels as legislators turned a blind eye. Frequent flooding of altered waterways, deforestation, hurricanes, the energy demands of an air-conditioned lifestyle, increased automobile traffic, exponential population growth, and an ever-expanding metropolitan area all escalated the need for massive infrastructure improvements.
The experts in Energy Metropolis examine the steps Houston has taken to overcome laissez-faire politics, indiscriminate expansion, and infrastructural overload. What emerges is a profound analysis of the environmental consequences of large-scale energy production and unchecked growth.
Table of Contents
Energy and Environment 17
A Mixed Blessing: Energy, Economic Growth, and Houston's Environment Joseph A. Pratt 21
The Houston Ship Channel and the Changing Landscape of Industrial Pollution Hugh S. Gorman 52
"Bad Science": The Politics of Ozone Air Pollution in Houston Robert Fisher 69
"The Air-Conditioning Capital of the World": Houston and Climate Control Robert S. Thompson 88
Growth of the Metropolitan Region 105
Houston's Public Sinks: Sanitary Services from Local Concerns to Regional Challenges Martin V. Melosi 109
Superhighway Deluxe: Houston's Gulf Freeway Tom Watson McKinney 148
Urban Sprawl and the Piney Woods: Deforestation in the San Jacinto Watershed Diane C. Bates 173
A Tale of Two Texas Cities: Houston, the Industrial Metropolis, and Galveston, the Island Getaway William C. Barnett 185
Environmental Activism at the Grassroots 205
Dumping on Houston's Black Neighborhoods Robert D. Bullard 207
The Gunfighters of Northwood Manor: How History Debunks Myths of the Environmental Justice Movement Elizabeth D. Blum 224
"To Combine Many and Varied Forces": The Hope of Houston's Environmental Activism, 1923-1999 Teresa Tomkins-Walsh 241
Voices of Discord: The Effects of a Grassroots Environmental Movement at the Brio Superfund Site Kimberly A. Youngblood 260
List of Contributors 329
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