Wednesday, November 22, 2006

New State Plan To Clean The Air In DFW Area

The Dallas-Fort Worth area still does not meet federal pollution guidelines. This year, the area had 31 ozone-alert days. While this is a small decrease over last year, there is still a long way to go before meeting the federal standards by 2010 as mandated. Now the State has proposed a new plan to clean the air.

In the past, the state plans have generally ignored industrial pollution, while punishing drivers in the area. It was expected that the new plan would be more of the same. There had even been talk of banning the use of drive-thru windows on bad ozone days to cut down on the pollution created by idling cars. But to my surprise, this time the plan is different.

The new plan hopes to cut auto pollution by encouraging more car-pooling and significantly increasing access to commuter light rail. It is hoped that measures such as these, in addition to cleaner fuels and cars mandated by the federal government, will get the job done.

But the real surprise of the plan is the demand that local smoke-stack industries [including the cement kilns that have been protected by Smokey Joe Barton] reduce their pollution by 33%. Some enviornmental groups have expressed disappointment that these industries were not asked to cut their pollution even more. I'm just glad that they're finally being asked to do something.

But the plan is not final. It must be submitted to the Texas Commission on Enviornmental Quality for approval, and then go to a 45-day period where the public and industry can comment. It must be submitted to the U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency by June 15th.

The real question to me is whether the cuts in industrial pollution will survive and become part of the plan submitted to the EPA. After all, we know that our governor is a friend to industrial polluters. Just look at the 11 new coal-burning power plants he is trying to get approved for the area. These plants are not even required to use the latest and cleanest technology.

Area drivers are already paying ever rising costs to keep their autos running cleaner and more efficiently. Now it is time for industry to step up and do its part.

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