Grown Men fighting over Clean Air

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The Austin Chronicle and The New York Times have been writing a lot about Texas's battle for cleaner air. The fights involve our federal government, Governor Perry, multinational refineries/factories/corporations, Austin's coal plant, and many many more. Wheels are turning. Here's the New York Times' most recent piece:…

And a few highlights from the Austin Chronicle:

> Bill White

Things are changing in TX politics…thankfully. Bill White is using the clean air issue to gain some leverage in the governor's race. White said recently Rick Perry has for years “played chicken with the EPA so he could create a controversy for the purposes of political theater and his career.” article –…

Bill White boxes Rick Perry's dirty ears, in public.

> Texas Enviros

Several enviro leaders who work at the state level were part of a full-length Austin Chronicle feature a few weeks ago. Eva Hernandez graced the weekly's cover in boxing gloves. The story gave background to sea changes suddenly taking place at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, changes that will influence our state's entire economy and clean our air significantly. “TCEQ” is Texas's regulator of air quality permits for large polluters. article –…

Mamas, don't let your babies eat Texas crab … or fish.

> The Feds & Al Armendariz

Late last year a new sheriff was appointed by Obama to serve as Administrator of The Environmental Protection Agency's Region Six office. “Region Six” covers TX, NM, OK, AR, & LO. Press everywhere at the time stated Obama hired Professor Armendariz because he knew Armendariz would be tougher on air quality. Texas 2010, after Bush's long reign, has some of the least stringent air quality standards in the US. Whether or not our state is the 6th biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses on earth, as many people say, I don't know. But I do know that in January of 2009 the Texas Department of State Health Services released a public report warning Texans to eat “only younger, smaller fish” caught in our state (fresh or salt water). My understanding of the innocuously-named “Guide to Eating Fish and Crabs” (1) is that due primarily to emissions and effluents being generated by our state's power plants, refineries, and manufacturers Texas fish and shellfish are no longer safe to eat. Period. (Don't fish here.) The document does a good job of describing some of the chemicals we should be concerned about, and showing the associated level of contamination common in many of our favorite large fish, like catfish and tuna. related –…

Improving regional SO2 air quality standards will save Americans $13 to $33B a year, each of the next 9 years.

> SO2 x SUX

SO2, aka Sulfur Dioxide, is getting local press, too. The Federal EPA just issued new, healthier standards for SO2 emissions, updating a 40 year old law. Austin's biggest emitter of SO2, its coal plant, will probably not be affected by these new standards. Why? Austinites just invested aprox. $220M to reduce its coal plant's SO2 pollution. (Look for that cost to be added into electricity bills throughout the next 20 to 30 years citizens of Austin…) As a state, Texas has some of the SO2iest air in the nation, so we can all look forward to health benefits once the new, improved standards take effect. But check this out — nationwide: a) the EPA estimates Americans will spend about $1.5 billion during the next 9 years to fully implement the standards. Conversely, b) the EPA estimates resulting health benefits will save Americans somewhere in the range of $13 billion to $33 billion each year of the next 9 years ($117 to $297 billion total). Roughly, that's a $1.5B investment to reduce $200B in health injury costs. Ahhh, cleaner air. article –…

86% of Americans support clean air legislation.

> And Finally … Guess what, Americans Don't Suck

This week the NY Times also featured an interesting OpEd. Stanford University recently released a poll that shows 86% of Americans support clean-er air legislation. . .  and 76% of Americans want climate legislation. Who knew? source –…


This article is excerpted from a monthly newsletter for the local Facebook group, “Austin Has a Dirty Secret.” Austin Has a Dirty Secret is an informal group of over 800 Austinites who believe we should convince Austin Energy it can and should get out of burning coal to make electricity. Check out the group:…


Download the bizarre State-issued document “Texas Guide to Eating Fish and Crabs”…


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