Dr. Stacey Sowards (second from left), with UTEP students and forest rangers at Gunung Walat Forest, Indonesia in 2009. (Courtesy of Stacey Sowards)

$1 million AID grant to promote UTEP program in environmental conservation in communication

EL PASO – When Stacey Sowards’ parents moved to tropical East Kalimantan in Indonesia during her last year at Colorado College, little did she know that the new experience would guide her future academic achievements. Sowards, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso, first experienced Indonesia in 1994. It was not long before she started teaching Intercultural Communication at different locations in East Kalimantan. She wrote her doctoral dissertation about environmental organizations working to protect orangutans in Indonesia. Sowards received a Fulbright scholarship in 2000 that allowed her to live in Indonesia for about a year and she has returned numerous times since then.

Paisano Valley Water Project In El Paso. (William Blackburn/Borderzine.com)

Bi-national projects lead to health benefits for border residents

EL PASO — The bi-national project Border 2012 aims to improve the environment of the border region and the health of nearly 12 million people through a partnership between the United States and México. The goals of Border 2012 are to reduce water contamination, reduce air pollution, reduce land contamination, improve environmental health, and emergency preparedness and response. Paving miles of highways in Sonora, México using asphalt pavement will reduce particulate matter in the air that leads to respiratory diseases. Protecting and preserving the U.S.-México border region by identifying, developing, implementing and overseeing these environmental infrastructure projects is the job of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) headquartered in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Since 2005 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has authorized the BECC to manage $7.4 million for 144 Border 2012 projects.

Cigarette smoking harms your health and the environment

EL PASO, Texas —When people talk about the dangers of smoking, they are usually focused on the health risks, and hardly on the damage that cigarette pollution does on the environment. People walking the streets of El Paso can see the beautiful Franklin mountains that rise from the city and the brilliant red sunsets. As they appreciate the unique environment, they also can see cigarette butts littering the sidewalks. Cigarette butts are all over the UTEP campus, especially on the floor next to the cigarette ashtrays. Dr. Elizabeth Walsh, a biology professor and a member of an environmental advocacy group,  said she usually see smokers outside the biology building flip their cigarette butts right next to ashtray.

Planet Forward: Emergency on Planet Earth

EL PASO, Texas — The University of Texas at El Paso is “walking the walk and not just talking the talk.”

A famous quote by Henry David Thoreau states : “Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.”

When it comes to concern about the environment; UTEP’s answer:  build three new multi-million dollar construction projects. UTEP’s ongoing construction projects all have green initiatives, including locations for cyclists to come and relax, take a shower, and place their personal belongings in new lockers. This supports the concept that students should ride their bike to UTEP instead of driving their car. Ed Soltero, UTEP’s director of planning and construction promises, “one day UTEP will eventually be off limits to cars, it will become strictly students.”

Currently, UTEP proposes to be in the vanguard in helping to preserve the environment in the southwest. “UTEP has most certainly been at the forefront of these sustainability issues,” according to Soltero.

Cleaning ASARCO’s Pollution Legacy Raises Concerns Among Environmental Advocates

EL PASO— Students and citizens of this border city met Thursday at the University of Texas at El Paso to find ways to clean up and reclaim the land severely polluted by the century-old ASARCO copper-smelter. “There’s over 75 ft. of lead laden slag right on this site and about 230 million cubic ft. of water in a plume, and so we’ve got to clean that stuff up and I think that’s the major concern most people have here,” said Senator Eliot Shapleigh. The main speakers at the UTEP Student Government Association event included Senator Shapleigh and Custodial Trustee Robert Puga.