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There's some commentary out there, including unfortunately from within the EPA itself, suggesting that a Trump administration can't undue much of the nation's environmental regulations, no matter how determined his appointees might be to do so; that things won't be as bad as you fear. 

Don't buy it. It's exactly the kind of commentary that said Trump would never be elected in the first place. 

This isn't W. This isn't even Reagan. There's no shared world view, or even a rhetorical fig leaf devoted to the need for environmental protection. It's ISIS about to invade and systematically blow-up the nation's environmental safeguards because they don't believe in them. The Clean Air Act is a false idol. The Clean Water Act is blasphemy against an unfettered market. They must be demolished. 

Reassurances to the contrary, there are lots of ways to make sure EPA doesn't work. You don't have to repeal the Clean Air Act to make it impotent. As Grover Norquist commented, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Citizens know in the best of times, it's a chore to make the government enforce what's on the books. Imagine no interest at all in enforcement by EPA, where you still have federal regulations but their implementation is left entirely up to states, cities, or environmental groups. No money for attorneys or staff. All work out-sourced to contractors who are also getting paid by the polluters they're now regulating. 

Imagine EPA's scientific panels filled with Michael Honeycutts, the TCEQ's own professional apologist. There's not only no such thing as Climate Change, there's no such thing as smog. Or if there is, it turns out to be good for you! 

Over the weekend, reports surfaced of the Trump people literally taking names of EPA employees who've been directly involved in climate change work. He's not even president yet, but he already putting together an environmental enemies list. 

Staid observers are counting on bureaucratic inertia to help maintain business-as-usual. But these people are underestimating both the zeal and the intent of the new gang. They're here to destroy, not carry-on. Illusions to the contrary can only facilitate the destruction.

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80s-aids-activismAt first blush it might seem strange to recommend Trump-era environmentalists undertake a crash course on Reagan-era AIDS activism, but this review of David France's book in the Washington Post makes a good case. 

Frances' How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS" is based on the 2012 documentary of the same name. Faced with political opposition based on cultural shaming at the highest levels of government using ideological fig leafs, the LGBT community in the 1980's had to fight for the very scientific legitimacy of the disease itself. It then had to organize its own treatment, and fight to fund new research. It had to fight the idea of AIDS as a "gay curse," educate about the new threat to everyone, and remind mainstream America the problem was closer than just the nearest gay bar downtown. 

To some of us, that's a pretty good description of the war against climate change activism we find ourselves confronting now. 

Just like AIDS deniers, there are climate change deniers. They don't even want to grant the most important fate-changing phenomenon of our times the legitimacy of reality.

At this point opposition to climate change is more cultural than political. It's a middle finger to the pointy-headed scientists and government regulators just looking to make a buck off selling the End of the World.

In the 1980's, survival of the LGBT community motivated a spectrum of responses to an uncharitable status quo. To paraphrase Dr. Johnson, death has a way of focusing the mind. Everything from civil disobedience, to traditional lobbying, to the improbable idea of a giant silent quilt bearing profound testimony on the National Mall. Activists had to fight to even get on the radar of Big Science and Big Government. They did their own science and their own organizing. And from those contentious times grew something remarkable that would flourish and lead to the current status quo – marriage equality, anti-discrimination laws, huge national boycotts pushing back against attempts to re-institutionalize prejudice. 

Here's the nut graph of the piece:

"The book is also something of a how-to manual for activism. ACT UP agitators shut down the FDA, blocked access to drugmakers’ buildings, and even placed an enormous condom over Helms’s house. Their efforts built new and lasting bridges among activists, scientists and policy wonks while establishing a blueprint for social change. France was emphatic when he told me that the lesson from the AIDS era is a sweeping one: Against all odds, he declared, “empowerment and victory are possible.” That’s an important one to recall at the dawn of a Trump administration."

Survival is on the line again but there's a President-elect already on record as saying climate change is a hoax. What's the appropriate responses to such a basic level of uncomprehension? We're about to find out, but maybe we could save some time by going back and absorbing the lessons of the people who knew what it was like to fight with everything on the line and no friends in high places. 

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fish-small-eat-bigOn Monday, Downwinders sent out acceptance letters to 15 DFW residents who'd applied to become members of our very first College of Constructive Hell-Raising. Since 15 students is all we have room for this initial year, that means we reached full capacity a whole ten days before the deadline for applications on December 1st. And there's even a small waiting list now. There might be some interest in this community organizing stuff after all. 

The successful applicants range in age, experience and background. There are college students as well as retirees. There's a PhD candidate in environmental philosophy and the founder of a social justice choir. One has been deeply involved in South Dallas criminal justice issues while another is a High School teacher with no organizing experience at all. One founded a thriving regional business while another has already run for local political office. We have DREAM generation activists, urban ag advocates, prairie protectionists, and International Rescue Committee volunteers. If you want a reason to feel optimistic about the future, this class is a good place to start.

Plans were underway for the College before this election year, but there's no denying those plans seem prescient now. We're going to need better-trained activists and we're going to need better networks. 

The College is just one of the ways Downwinders is trying to build more local "capacity" for DFW activists of all kinds. More resources, more opportunities to learn, more ways to sharpen your skills. Another is coming up soon: Our Root and Branch Revue from Janaury 24th thru the 28th is aimed at making you a better activist. This year's featured guests will be the women from Flint, Michigan who blew the whistle on that public health scandal by doing their own water testing and organizing around the result. The message: We all live in Flint now. Root and Branch will again feature a whole Saturday of workshops, as well as a film screening, another edition of "Get Polluted with Bar Politics," and more. Details coming soon. 

If you're kicking yourself over not signing-up for the 2017 College semester in time, not to worry. We're going to be doing this again in the spring of 2018. Meanwhile, keep track of the class and the CCHR at the College's own Facebook page. 

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5481167_originalThose words from Winston Churchill hung on a hand-drawn, four-foot long poster above the door of the Downwinders' first office in central Cedar Hill throughout the 1990's. 

They were still there in the fall of 1999 when we lost our six-year, six-fgure fight to keep TXI from getting a state permit to burn hazardous waste in obsolete kilns – more than 10 years after they'd already begun the practice. 

Both the quote and office were long gone in 2006 when we started our Green Cement campaign to try to stop the burning of hazardous waste through local procurement ordinances. 

By 2008, when TXI announced they were indeed going to stop burning waste, the sign itself was just a memory. But we never, never, never, never gave in. Despite the election of W as Governor, and then president. Despite both a hostile state and federal government. Despite getting our ass kicked. Hard. We dusted ourselves off, got back up, and started again. 

Our fight over waste-burning took 14 years, and spanned three different presidential administrations. 

No doubt about it. We all just got our ass kicked yesterday. Hard. Our collective butt is red and sore and it's perfectly natural not to want to put it in a position to be kicked again, to avert another possible ass-kicking, to avoid conflict for awhile. But you must resist that urge. Instead, we have to regroup and keep fighting. Hard. 

There are some epic battles coming up. Their results are not decided yet. We need your participation to stand a chance. Unlike elections, we don't need 51% to win many of them. Just a critical mass of people like you. Yes, there's always the possibility of getting your ass kicked again. But there's also the possibility of you kicking some ass.

And if you want to learn how to be a better ass kicker, then we suggest this bit of training. 

The point is, go ahead and lick your wounds however you must, but don't check out of political action because of the election results this year. We need you back here on the front lines asap, now more than ever, because the challenge is greater than ever. As one of our College of Constructive Hell-Raising guest lecturers, Changa Masomakalia, wrote in a post last night:

This is your Reconstruction period. 
This is your Civil Rights Movement. 
This is your moment. 
What are you going to do with it?

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boisdarc-patriots-saluteThis picture is from the mid 1970's.

It features members of the East Dallas Tenants and Small Homeowners' Alliance, and a very influential group of activists who organized them called the Bois D'Arc Patriots

Named after the native tree renowned for its durability and strength, the one Comanches used to carve their bows from, the Patriots were committed to representing the unrepresented in Dallas. 

Specifically, they fought on behalf of East Dallas residents who were being forced out of their homes by gentrification and bad city planning. Sound familiar?

During a high-profile fight over slumlords, the Patriots released a box of cockroaches during a Dallas City Council meeting in order to bring home the conditions residents were experiencing – as well as comment on the Council's inaction.

Dallas native John Fullinwider was an original member of the Patriots. He's gone on to become an acclaimed DISD educator as well as remain a mainstay in Dallas community politics, including being an advisor to Mothers Against Police Brutality.

He's also one of nine Guest Lecturers participating in Downwinders at Risk's College of Constructive Hell-Raising, a continuing ed course on community organizing beginning in January. 

This course is designed for anyone who wants to learn more about how to be an effective advocate, as well as know how others in DFW have forged productive social change despite the odds. 

The College of Constructive Hell-Raising offers the first opportunity for DFW activists to receive professional-style training for organizers.

Classes start January 17th. They're from 7-9 pm and run twice a month until May.  Maximum class size is 15. Applications are being accepted online now here. 

The cost is only $125, not due until your application is accepted. Scholarship money is available. 

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Using local social justice history lessons and expertise, the College for Constructive Hell-Raising aims for students to “think more like organizers”

January 17- May 23rd 

(Dallas)–Saying they want to encourage local residents to organize more effectively around the issues that concern them, clean air group Downwinders at Risk announced today it’s establishing a new “school” for doing just that: “The College of Constructive Hell-Raising.“

Meeting two Tuesday evenings a month from January to May next year, the College will expose its students to time-tested community organizing principles and use past DFW social justice campaigns to make points about strategy and tactics. Its curriculum is designed to assist any kind of organizing effort, not just the environmental fights Downwinders is known for winning.

Downwinders Director Jim Schermbeck said this kind of training is usually only offered at out-of-state facilities like the Midwest Academy in Chicago, or the Highlander Institute in Tennessee, and then only to professional staffers in intense one to two-week sessions costing thousands of dollars. Downwinders is charging just $125 and formatting the information into a more citizen-friendly evening continuing-ed type of class.

Supplementing eight out of the ten lesson plans are “guest lecturers” from past social justice campaigns who’ll talk about their own experiences in trying to change things for the better in DFW, including veteran civil rights organizers Peter Johnson and Robert Medrano, original Bois D’arc Patriot John Fullinwider, former State Representative Lon Burnam, West Dallas environmental leader Luis Sepulveda, long-time AIDS Services of Dallas Director Don Maison, Police brutality organizer Changa Masomakali, anti-nuclear organizer Mavis Belisle, and Zac Trahan, former Dallas Program Director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment.

By using this Who’s Who of change-makers, we’re not only giving students useful case studies in organizing, we’re  also passing along important local history lessons,” said Schermbeck. “Many of the controversies facing DFW today are rooted in the past struggles our guests will be talking about.”

He said Downwinders hopes graduates of the College will be able to use what they learn to successfully fight for a grassroots agenda in DFW, no matter the particular issue. “We believe the goal of building a more sustainable world is served through the strengthening of all of our allies. Environmentalism doesn’t exist in a vacuum.”

Only 15 students will be accepted in this first semester. More information and applications are available online at the Downwinders at Risk website: www.downwindersatrisk.org

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      "SMOG IN DFW"

END OF THE 2016 OZONE SEASON: 

ALL-STAR UPDATE AND DISCUSSION

 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27th

6-8 PM

DREAM CAFE @THE QUADRANGLE

2800 ROUTH STREET #170 DALLAS  (map)

 

THE FEATURED EARTH DAY TEXAS

EDMO EVENT FOR OCTOBER 

 

PARTICIPANTS INCLUDE: 

DALLAS CITY COUNCILWOMAN SANDY GREYSON

FORMER DALLAS COUNTY JUDGE MARGARET KELIHER

DR. ROBERT HALEY, TOXICOLOGIST, UT SOUTHWESTERN

DR. DAVID LARY, ATMOSPHERIC CHEMIST, UT AT DALLAS

DOWNWINDERS AT RISK DIRECTOR JIM SCHERMBECK

MODERATED BY RANDY LEE LOFTIS, TEXAS CLIMATE NEWS 

 

Despite five clean air plans written by the state and EPA, DFW has been in continuous violation of the Clean Air Act for smog since 1991.

The current state clean air plan for DFW has one more summer to "attain" the federal ozone standard of 75 parts per billion. We're at a regional average of 80 ppb, down exactly 1 ppb from 2015 levels. The region has never had a one-year 5 ppb drop in smog before.

If the state plan does fail next year, what happens? 

Meanwhile, advancements in technology are making it possible for citizens to use increasingly sophisticated tools previously available only to government or industry in their fights for cleaner air.

How much of government's air quality watchdog role can now be assumed by citizens, and should be? 

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Pics from Our “Meet the Drones” Mixer

by jim on October 17, 2016

drone-mixer-12Here's the link to some pictures of our October 6th "Meet the Drones" Mixer featuring the squadron from University of Texas at Dallas. 

Thanks to TCU's Dr. Mike Slattery for hosting the public debut of our North Texas CLEAN Air Force – an exciting new effort combining citizen know-how with academic expertise to better help us identify DFW air pollution problems.  Representatives from TCU, UTA, UTD, UNT, UNTHSC were on site. Thanks as well to all the supporters and curiosity-seekers who showed up to see the show. 

This was the first of what we hope will be a series of such events around North Texas to show off the capacity and potential of this new tool for citizens. Stay tuned for news on when we'll be coming to a campus near you.

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honeycutt-w-bkgroundYou've probably have never heard of the EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee but if you live in DFW or another "non-attainment" area for smog, you are governed by its judgment about what does, or does not, constitute a "safe" level of exposure to smog. 

The mission of the Committee is to periodically review the latest scientific literature on the subject of smog pollution and determine if the federal standard needs to be adjusted accordingly. Its members, all experts in their fields, serve as volunteers to advise the EPA. Although its recommendations are not automatically enforced, they carry a lot of weight and often determine when and by how much the standard will be changed. 

Since 1991, based on wave after wave of studies on air pollution, the standard has been repeatedly revised downward, from a one-hour exposure level of 120 parts per billion to an eight-hour exposure level of 75 ppb currently, soon to come down to 70 ppb.

The original recommendation of the Committee this time around was for the standard to be lowered to between 65 and 70 ppb. The Obama Administration, after ungracefully backing-out of such a change prior to the 2012 election leading to the departure of then EPA chief Lisa Jackson, agreed to a 70 ppb standard last year. It's expected to be enforced at the beginning of the next decade.

Because of the volunteer nature of the job, there's always turnover on the Scientific Committee. This past year a new slot opened up and the EPA was taking nominations to fill it.  Seeing an opportunity to put one of their own on the body, the Oil and Gas industry, as well as many others, supported none other than Texas Committee on Environmental Quality staff toxicologist Michael Honeycutt for the job. 

This is akin to nominating Donald Trump to be a Sorority Mom. 

Honeycutt has turned his office, never held by anyone particularly citizen-friendly before, into a shameless base camp for every industry fighting new environmental regulations of any kind. He is the go-to contrarian when independent scientists conclude new, lower levels of exposure to a poison are justified, whether it's Benzene, Arsenic or smog. Honeycutt never met a toxin he didn't want to shill for.

In the case of smog, Honeycutt hired Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Gradient Inc. at the tune of about $1 million in taxpayer money, to help him sell the idea that smog isn't that bad for you and a new lower standard for exposure was completely and utterly unnecessary to protect human health. Gradient has a impeccable reputation – for being Big Tobacco's bought and paid researchers whenever it needed somebody in a white coat to talk about how exaggerated the risks of smoking were. 

Teaming-up, industry, Gradient and Honeycutt hit the road as EPA was mulling over a new ozone standard, spreading the gospel of smog denial. They mounted a campaign to block the EPA from implementing the 70ppb standard. They failed. But they weren't through. 

For sheer gall, their next move can't be beat. When a slot on the smog standard-deciding Scientific Advisory Committee opened up, industry decided to nominate Honeycutt to the job. Who better to decide the level of harm the public should be exposed to than the guy who says there's nothing to worry about? 

Honeycutt had the support of industry and its supporters in Congress. Oklahoma Senator Jim "Snowball" Inhofe is a big fan. How could he not get the job? 

Alas, it might come as a shock, but the Obama EPA did not appoint Honeycutt to the position. 

Instead, it decided to pick Donna Kenski, the data analysis director for the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium. for the open seat.

As you can imagine, the air is heavy with disappointment on Congress Ave in Austin and K Street in DC. Here's the reaction of one of industry's paid spokesmen, who coincidentally happens to be that same US Senator who backed him,   

"It's disappointing EPA overlooked so many well-qualified candidates who would have brought much needed geographic diversity, fresh perspectives, and balance to the powerful CASAC panel," Sen. Jim Inhofe told ME in a statement. "The Obama-EPA has once again ignored established policies and public input on candidates and instead has hand-picked an ally to fill one of its last advisory appointments of this administration." 

This is the kind of small, but important battle that takes place all the time in government. When you think about voting for president, the EPA's Scientific Advisory Committee is probably not the first thing you consider. But it makes a huge difference whether such a committee is headed up by real scientists, or junk scientists like Michael Honeycutt. Smog standards can save thousands of lives across the country every year. Those lives depend on the EPA using the best science, not the best science money can buy. 

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meet-the-drones-smallAttention DFW Citizen Scientists and Interested Folk!!

 

Check out UTD's fleet of drones used for air monitoring and talk to the scientists who use them.

See the "real time results" "dashboard" UNT is developing to pair with these drones.

Meet our academic partners in establishing a grassroots air network better than anything government is doing.

$35 gets you all this, a drink and some food.

Spend the evening getting all cyberized.

 

TICKETS CAN BE PURCHASED ONLINE HERE: 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/keep-em-flying-launch-of-the-n…

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Only THREE Hours Left to Contribute

This "Giving Day," Downwinders is trying to raise $6500 to fund a full 72 hours of airborne investigation by our pollution-sniffing drones.

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From 6 am to 12 Midnight tonight, contributions of just $25 or more to Downwinders can get matched or expanded by the Communities Foundation of Texas.


 

OUR GOAL: TO REPLACE THE STATUS QUO, NOT JUST FIGHT IT

We're talking a lot about our drone project today because, let's face it, drones are tech-sexy!

But drone monitoring is just one part of a plan to replace the State of Texas as a source of air quality information for DFW residents.

Just like everything else in the digital world, the cost of reliable air pollution electronic sensors is coming down. What used to cost millions of dollars now costs hundreds of thousands, and tomorrow might cost just thousands.

It's the same reason we were able to clone the state's air computer model  and use it in ways the state didn't want it used. That would have been impossible a decade ago. But the price of supercomputing is going down and it allowed us to usurp a function for citizens that was previously only accessible to state engineers. 

Now we want to repeat that success.

The state only operates a total of 20 air monitors in North Texas.

Five are boundary monitors – far outside the central cities. That leaves just 15 monitors for 7 million people inside the metro area. 

Working with area universities, Downwinders wants to deploy a grassroots citizen-based monitor network that would connect hundreds of monitors across the DFW area.

This network would not only warn you about Smog, but Particulate Matter and Air Toxics as well – something the state network isn't built to do. 

The goal is nothing less than to usurp the state's job once again – and once again do it better. 

It's important to us not only to fight the Good Fights that need fighting, but to change the system itself as we win those fights. 

If you like this strategy, please contribute today to make sure we're around to implement it. 

Thank you for your consideration.

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Keep 'Em Flying

So far, contributions from our supporters have got our drone out of the hanger and into the air.

Now we need to get it above cement kiln and coal plant smokestacks we want to monitor. Help us gain monetary altitude. 

This "Giving Day," Downwinders is trying to raise $6500 to fund a full 72 hours of airborne investigation by our pollution-sniffing drones.

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From 6 am to 12 Midnight tonight, contributions of just $25 or more to Downwinders can get matched or expanded by the Communities Foundation of Texas.

Not only does your donation go further today, it also helps us fund new projects like our North Texas CLEAN Air Force.

But citizen-owned drones are only one part of a larger, more ambitious air quality monitoring project now taking shape in DFW. 

Along with our academic partners in a new Air Research Consortium, we want to establish a region wide network of hundreds of stationary and mobile e-sensors that can give you better and more nuanced air quality information.

We want to take over the State's job – which it isn't doing very well anyway. The first step for us is getting our drones up in the air and doing research. 

One hour of drone flight time costs $90. A full 72 hours in the air costs about $6500. That's our goal today. 


 

And then there's this…..

We just won a fight it took 15 years to win

scr-unit-picAfter 15 years of hard work we finally saw the installation of a state-of-the-art air pollution control system in one of thethree Midlothian cement plants this month.

 

It could reduce smog pollution from the plant's kiln by 80-90%. 

 

Only your support enabled us to stick around and follow-though on this goal.

 

WE CAN'T DO THIS WORK WITHOUT YOU

giving-day-logo-rdCLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE 

 

 

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This "Giving Day" Downwinders is trying

to raise $6500 to fund a full 72 hours

of airborne investigation by our

pollution-sniffing drone

donate-button copy

From 6 am to 12 Midnight tonight, contributions of just $25 or more to Downwinders can get matched or expanded by the Communities Foundation of Texas.

Not only does your donation go further today, it also helps us fund new projects like our North Texas CLEAN Air Force.

We're adding an exiting new high-tech tool to our fight for cleaner air. One that can replace, not just fight, the status quo. 

Air-monitoring drones can reveal pollution hot spots stationary monitors can't. They can respond to accidents and tell you whether that plume of smoke really is "harmless."  

One hour of drone flight time costs $90. A full 72 hours in the air costs about $6500. That's our goal today. 

Your lungs are worth it.



We're the only clean air group in DFW with full-time staff.

All our board members live here. 

We depend on DFW residents like you for our continued successes, like….

Stopping the burning of hazardous waste in local cement plants 

Shutting down the outlaw Exide lead smelter in Frisco 

Writing the most protective gas drilling ordinance in Texas

And now – fighting for a new federal anti-smog plan for DFW to replace the state's do-nothing approach

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WE CAN'T DO THIS WORK WITHOUT YOU

 

Thanks for your Consideration 

 

 

 

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SmallVictoriesHolcim is the first cement plant in the nation to voluntarily install an industrial catalytic converter called SCR on its smokestack, significantly cutting smog-forming air pollution in DFW. 

But despite operating only 26 miles from EPA headquarters, the Agency and State of Texas still claim the technology isn't "feasible"  

 

Downwinders is proud to announce Midlothian's Holcim cement plant is the first in the nation to voluntarily install pollution control equipment significantly cutting smog-forming air pollution, along with other dangerous emissions.  

"Not many people may notice, but Friday is a big day for air breathers in DFW, as well as for everyone in the country who lives downwind of a cement plant," said Tamera Bounds, Chair of Downwinders at Risk, the clean air group that's been relentless in its pursuit of the technology for North Texas since 2001.  

Friday marks the official deadline for Holcim's Midlothian cement plant to have its Selective Catalytic Reduction, or SCR system, up and running on one of its two giant kilns in order to be compliant with EPA emissions limits.  

Although almost a dozen cement plants in Europe have installed the technology over the last twenty years and it's widespread in the American coal industry, Holcim is so far the only cement plant in the U.S. to install SCR on one of its kilns without a government mandate.  

A pilot test using SCR at Midwest cement plant was required by a Department of Justice enforcement action in 2010. Results show smog-forming pollution was cut by at least 80% – roughly twice as much as pollution controls now in use in the US, including Midlothian. In Europe, SCR has a track record of removing 80-90% or more of the smog-forming pollution that has kept DFW in violation of the Clean Air Act since 1991. It also cuts the emissions of air toxics, particulate matter, and dioxins by double-digits.  

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With three cement plants and four kilns, Midlothian hosts the largest concentration of cement manufacturing in the US, and the largest "stationary" sources of air pollution in DFW. Since the late 1980's, the city has become a national battleground over cement plant pollution. First, over the use of hazardous waste as "fuel" for the local kilns, then over the closing of dirtier, obsolete "wet" kilns contributing to smog and climate change, and now over how fast new kilns can be updated to reflect 21st technology.   

Bounds and others say the installation of SCR on all four kilns in Midlothian would mean a huge benefit to public health for residents in Tarrant County, where the predominant winds push the plumes from the kilns. A 2009 Cook Children's Hospital study showed childhood asthma levels highest directly downwind of the cement kilns.  

The demand for the technology is a central part of the group's push to replace the current State-sponsored anti-smog plan with a more effective, and protective, one from EPA. So far, Dallas County, the City of Dallas, two Congressional Representatives and a State Legislator agree with them. But incredibly, the Agency maintains the SCR technology Holcim has freely invested in to reduce pollution and is already operating less than 30 miles from its regional headquarters is not "technically feasible."  

Downwinders and other groups in the DFW Clean Air Network regional alliance are challenging EPA's refusal to recognize a game-changing pollution control technology that could help DFW finally put its smog problems behind it a well as offering similar help to other parts of the country downwind of cement plants.  

"It's rare these days to find the EPA embracing Texas' approach to ignoring advances in environmental science, but that's exactly what happening," said Bounds.  "Both State and EPA officials are acting like 3rd Graders – closing their eyes and humming loudly, pretending this time-tested technology isn't operating right in front of them. But it does, and it's here to stay."  

Bounds wants the EPA to take note of the cuts in pollution triggered by Holcim's operation of its SCR system and then hold ALL the Midlothian plants to the same modern standard. "You have a piece of equipment that is setting a higher bar for pollution control. Every cement kiln in DFW should have to meet that higher bar now. No other anti-pollution strategy makes sense."  

It's been a long and circuitous route to getting SCR installed in a Midlothian cement kiln. Along the way, the region's clean air activists moved the entire nation closer to widespread use of this control technology.  

North Texans first heard about the use of SCR in the cement industry through a citizens group fighting a proposed new cement plant in New York state in 2001.They'd commissioned a study from a NYC engineering firm identifying European cement plants that had already successfully installed the technology.  

Downwinders tried and failed to include SCR in the anti-smog plan in 2003. It then used a 2005 settlement agreement with the State over the failure of that plan to get the then Rick Perry-controlled Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to perform an independent assessment of the technology. That landmark study produced results that are still reverberating today. In it, five independent experts chosen by Downwinders, the cement industry, and the State declared SCR to be ready for prime time.  

"SCR is a commercially available technology. It offers the possibility of significant NOx reduction at the plants in Ellis County.  As an 'add on' technology, which can achieve 90% or greater NOx reduction, with demonstrated performance at hundreds of coal fired power plants, SCR is a viable technology that is available for both dry and wet kilns."  

That conclusion, from cement industry experts, in a TCEQ study, is now a decade old.  

At the same time they were working to bring SCR to Midlothian, Downwinders also led the fight for new EPA emission limits on cement kilns that burn hazardous waste. A 2009 national hearing at DFW Airport attracted over 200 people. Those emission limits clamped down on air toxics. Holcim couldn't meet them without adding controls. They choose an SCR unit on one kiln and a thermal oxidizer (re: flame) on the other to try and stay in compliance. Even though Holcim installed SCR to address air toxics, or Volatile Organic Compounds and not smog pollution, the effect on emissions will be the same.  

Meanwhile, the 2006 TCEQ study and subsequent push by Downwinders for SCR in Midlothian helped persuade the EPA to require the pilot test in 2010.  That test, as well as Holcim's experience in Europe, set the stage for SCR's official debut on the Texas prairie on Friday.   

"It's been a long fight, but change is hard," said Bounds, "and it doesn't happen in a straight line."


Help Us Celebrate This Victory That Was 15 Years in the Making

Please consider contributing $25 or more on "GIVING DAY" NEXT THURSDAY to keep us on the front lines of change another 15 years.

Giving Day is an all day online giving event sponsored by the Communities Foundation of Texas.

Downwinders will have our own online Giving Day page where you can click and give from 6 am through 12 Midnight next Thursday.

Every contribution of $25 or more is matched or extended by the Foundation.  

This year, we need your support to keep our full-time staff in the field, as well as fund our 2nd annual Root and Branch Revue for activists, and assemble our North Texas Clean Air Forceof air-monitoring drones. 

Oh yeah, we're also opening a school for organizers in January. 

We're based in DFW. All our board members are from DFW. Our priority is DFW air. Your contribution stays in North Texas to fund the fight for clean air in North Texas. 

We know you're being assaulted by Giving Day appeals from all the local non-profits, and there are lots and lots of good causes. We only request that you ask yourself how many other local groups can repeatedly pull off meaningful victories with so few resources? 

We were able to bring SCR to Midlothian with your help. We need your help again next Thursday. We think we've earned it. 

Thanks.

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“Meet the Drones” Mixer Oct 6th

by jim on September 13, 2016

meet-the-drones

Thursday, October 6th 

5:00 to 6:30 pm

TCU Alumni Center

2820 Stadium Dr

Fort Worth

Have a bite to eat, a drink, and stroll amongst the drones we're assembling for our North Texas Clean Air Force.

Representatives from the University of Texas at Dallas will be displaying their fleet of fixed-wing and rotor copter drones. TCU, UTA, UNT and the UNT Health Science Center have all been invited to set up displays and show-off their high-tech capabilities as well. 

Chat with our academic parterns in grassroots air monitoring and watch as a certified drone pilot demonstrates the new technology we're using to fight for cleaner air.

This should be of interest to anyone looking for Do-It-Yourself ways to monitor the air we breathe as well as Downwinders supporters in general. We're adding a high-tech tool to our tool box and we want you to see how we're spending your contributions. Support a citizens' North Texas Clean Air Force.

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS: $35-500

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