Former Bush EPA Regional Administrator Endorses Off-Sets in Dallas Gas Ordinance

by jim on September 20, 2012

Many of you know Richard Greene as the former Arlington Mayor who was tapped by President George W. Bush to become Regional Administrator of the EPA in Dallas in 2003. Unlike many other Bush appointees, Green was not an ideologue. He was an administrator. And he lived in the area he was serving, and had already had stints as an Arlington Planning and Zoning Commissioner and Arlington Star-Telegram publisher. It didn't hurt that he could call the President up and shoot the breeze about the baseball team they both had an interest in.

Greene was a supporter of Downwinders' Green Cement campaign, and promoted its use as part of the larger 2006-7 DFW clean air plan. His support gave legs to what was then just an idea, a concept. He helped transform it into the kind of de facto regional purchasing policy that contributed to TXI and Ash Grove's decisions to close their dirtier old wet kilns, and in the process reduce hundreds of thousands of tons of air pollution each and every year.

So it was a kind of a big deal when Greene took the time to write the Dallas Morning News a letter endorsing the idea of "off-sets" for air pollution from natural gas mining and processing – the newest de facto regional air quality strategy Downwinders is promoting to rein-in gas emissions that are rising rapidly. Published on September 12th here it is in its entirety:

 

City should set drilling example
 

As the City Council prepares to write a new ordinance regarding urban oil and gas drilling, Dallas has a unique opportunity to once again set a regional clean air example, while also tapping into a needed energy source.

Natural gas is an important part of the nation's energy mix. However, when it comes to metropolitan areas like D-FW that are in nonattainment of the Clean Air Act, those circumstances should be crafted so as to not allow new emissions to cancel out previous hard-won reductions.

The kinds of facilities that operators use to produce and process natural gas are diffuse over a large area. They're not centralized like a power plant or a factory, and so under current federal law these facilities, no matter how concentrated or connected, are not covered under the traditional offsets rule.

Dallas could change that with an innovative expression of local control. The city could require reasonable offsets for new industries that emit a significant amount of air pollution, including natural gas operators, as part of a new urban drilling ordinance.

Since local gas producers project little impacts from their operations, the burden should not be a deterrent to drilling here.

Richard Greene Arlington,

former EPA regional administrator

 

Remember, this is from George Bush's personal appointee to run the Regional EPA.

When citizens met with Dallas councilwoman Linda Koop – the council's go-to person on all things air quality – she had a hard copy with her. She reportedly had "no problem" with off-sets, but thought it might take more time to establish than the council has before voting on a final ordinance. Citizens expressed confidence it could be done sooner and at last word, she was trying to arrange a meeting between city and EPA staffs to talk about the mechanics of such an approach. Slowly but surely, common sense seems to be gathering momentum.

Many thanks to Mayor Greene for his support of what we think is a market-based innovative approach to solve a regional air quality problem. We hope his endorsement has the same impact as the last one.

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