Last month the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new slate of appointments to the Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC), a panel that advises on several critical environmental issues. Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee is one of two Texans (along with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg) to be on the committee, and he spoke to the Signal about how he intends to approach his new role.
For Menefee, being tapped to join the LGAC alongside 32 other local officials makes perfect sense for a Harris County official. After all, Houston is really the birthplace of the environmental justice movement. According to Menefee it’s important for the area, which he deems “a hub for environmental issues and activity,” to be represented.
Harris County has been the epicenter of many challenging environmental concerns, from air quality issues to chemical disasters to destructive weather. In the past Menefee’s office has been proactive about working on behalf of the citizens of Harris County. They have sued state regulatory agencies over concrete batch plant permitting and gone over corporations that have failed to enforce environmental laws. “We’ve been at the center of conversation for compliance and enforcement on these environmental issues,” notes Menefee.
Being a part of the LGAC also continues a natural relationship with the EPA under the Biden Administration. Menefee was with EPA Administrator Michael Regan when he toured the Fifth Ward, a minority neighborhood that has traditionally been ignored by state and federal officials, in 2021. “I saw him sit on a stoop and talk with folks in the neighborhood about the environmental issues they are facing,” said Menefee.
Serving on the LGAC can only enhance the relationship Harris County has with the EPA, which Menefee sees a huge triumph. It’s also a far cry from when the office sued the EPA under the Trump Administration for attempting to rollback chemical safety protocols. “[The EPA], they’ve been a trusted partner, and me being on this committee just strengthens that.”
A longtime writer and journalist, Jessica was thrilled to join the Texas Signal where she could utilize her unique perspective on politics and culture. As the Features and Opinion Editor, she is responsible for coordinating editorials and segments from diverse authors. She is also the host of the podcast the Tex Mix, as well as the co-host for the weekly SignalCast. Jessica attended Harvard College, is a onetime fitness blogger, and has now transitioned to recreational runner (for which her joints are thankful).