After years of declining fiscal health, the Big Brown lignite coal plant finally succumbed last Friday.  An announcement was made by its most recent caretaker, Vistra Energy last Friday morning. The cause of death was obsolescence. It was 47.

Controversial from its birth, the 1. 2 Gigawatt Big Brown lived up to its name and was Texas Utilities’ flagship power plant for decades. It began by burning 100% Lignite Coal, the mud-like fossil fuel native to East and Central Texas. By the end however, it was importing thousands of tons of “cleaner” Wyoming Powder Basin Coal in long freight trains to comply with interstate pollution rules.

Along with other coal-fired power plants in East Texas, Big Brown was citied for causing acid rain to by SMU Chemist George Crawford as early as the 1980’s. It was then discovered to be a major contributor t0 Dallas-Fort Worth smog, a fact reinforced by a 2008 study from another SMU professor and former EPA Regional Administrator Dr. Al Armendriz,  and more recently by Dallas Medical Society’s Dr. Robert Haley in his 2015 report on ozone levels and public health in DFW. Public Citizen/Texas and the Sierra Club had been particularly hostile to the plant’s continued operation.

As coal lost favor as an energy source, Big Brown’s estimated lifespan had been the subject of countless rumors over the last decade. Towards the end the plant consistently refused modern technology which might have prolonged its life, such as Sulfur Dioxide scrubbers and Selective Catalytic Reduction for smog pollution.

The timing of the plant’s demise was seen as a major embarrassment to officials in the Trump Administration, who’ve promised to promote coal. On the same day as Vistra’s notice about Big Brown’s demise, Trump appointed known fossil fuel promoter Kathleen Hartnett White to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

It was the third Texas coal plant to expire in less than a week. Big Brown was preceded in passing by the Monticello lignite plant, which announced its departure on October 6th. Vistra said its smaller Sandlow power plant near Bastrop was to be closed in 2018 as well.

In 2016, these three coal plants emitted a total of 166 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, 24 million pounds of nitrogen oxide, and 21 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution. Their absence during the 2018 “ozone season” could be the first time DFW stands a chance of complying with the Clean Air Act in 27 years. 

Survivors, for now, include the coal-fired Martin Lake and Oak Grove power plants, as well as NRG’s Limestone power plant, southeast of DFW.

Eagle Ford MapFor decades DFW was the only major urban area in Texas to have its air quality challenged by the cement industry. Repeated modeling over the course of the last several local air plans showed that the concentration of the plumes from three huge cement plants in Midlothian could increase downwind ozone levels significantly. Part of this is the voluminous emissions produced by the kilns and part of it's location, location, location –  the close proximity of these cement plants to the center of DFW. So much so that you can see their smokestacks from I-20 in Grand Prairie and Arlington.

Then beginning in 2006 or so, the area's air shed began to be reshaped by the presence of gas production facilities as the Barnett Shale was opened up to exploitation from fracking, a process freshly exempted from just about every federal environmental regulation with passage of the 2005 Energy Act. But unlike large "stationary sources" like cement plants, these gas facilities were spread out over a large area, right in the middle of the Metromess, and were except from the "off-set" requirements of other large polluters. Even though their collective emissions were as large or larger than any other single industrial source, their decentralization allowed their operators to release their tons of pollution into the air without ever having to consider its impact on local smog levels.

That one-two punch of local industrial pollution flies in the face of the office park business image of DFW. Houston has traditionally been the city where industry has made it harder to breathe. In North Texas, it's supposed to be all about cars and trucks. But those cars and trucks lay a mostly uniform blanket of ozone over the entire area, whereas the gas production facilities and the cement plants are concentrated fire hoses of smog-forming pollution that can impact specific monitors over and over again.

And all of this has taken place during a time when the official federal ozone standard has been a relatively high 85 parts per billion. Beginning in 2015, the standard becomes 75 ppb, and it might drop to 65-70 by 2020.

Texas cities like Austin and San Antonio have had little problem complying with the higher standard, but now face obstacles to coming in under the wire of a 75 ppb rule.

For one thing, the only other large concentration of cement plants in Texas besides Midlothian is located along the I-35 corridor from Buda, south of Austin to North San Antonio. Because prevailing winds have often carried the pollution from these plants away from central Austin or San Antonio, they haven't been seen as much of a threat. But now urbanization is increasingly creeping westward into the downwind path of these plumes, adding some heft to the emissions and combining with them to elevate ozone levels.

And then there's the Eagle Ford Shale gas play, the new Wild West of fracking in Texas, taking place directly upwind of central San Antonio. Unlike the urban drilling in the Barnett Shale, most of the activity in the Eagle Ford is taking place in unincorporated parts of South Texas counties. There haven't been any reliable emissions inventory of the pollution coming out of he Eagle Ford, but it's considerable. Anecdotally, there seems to be a lot of flaring that DFW never saw. Because of the amount of production taking place, as well as its location upwind during the summer "Ozone Season," Central Texas is starting to sweat about its impact on its own air quality.

That concern has prompted a regional modeling exercise which is supposed to determine how much, if any, impact the drilling in the Eagle Ford is having on the Alamo City's air. Back in July, we reported that the preliminary numbers of this study showed that gas production was capable raising local ozone levels by as much as 3 to 7 parts per billion by 2018 – exactly when all Texas cities must be in compliance with the new 75 ppb standard.

Maybe 3-7 ppb doesn't seem like much. And it isn't, unless you're already at or above the new 75 ppb standard and that amount will put and keep you over that red line. Like San Antonio in 2013. The July headline in the San Antonio paper was unambiguous: "Eagle Ford drilling is polluting San Antonio's air"

But it looks like someone at the San Antonio Council of Governments is taking a page from DFW and TCEQ officials and downplaying those preliminary numbers from last summer.

Previous studies show that emissions of ozone-forming chemicals from sources other than drilling have dropped significantly since 2007 despite the city's population growth, said Steven Smeltzer, AACOG's environmental manager. Smeltzer attributes the improvement to new vehicle standards and voluntary reductions by local industries.

Preliminary numbers from the AACOG study also indicate that much of the problem lies in the Eagle Ford. InsideClimate News obtained a copy of the data, which have not been made public. The data show that during the months when San Antonio experiences the highest ozone levels—April through October—oil and gas development produced about half the amount of ozone-forming emissions per day as all other industrial sources combined.

Bella said the data came from an early version of the study that wasn't as thorough as later drafts. "My sense is they're really not worth using…They're not solid numbers."

He declined to comment on whether the numbers are close to the latest estimates. What matters isn't the number, he said, but the process behind the study. If the science isn't right, then it's "garbage in, garbage out."

Yeah, we know. Believe it or not, citizens had to literally force the TCEQ to consider the effect of the pollution from Midlothian cement plants before they discovered, wow, they really do have an impact. Likewise, it took Dr. Al Armendariz's 2009 study of Barnett Shale pollution for the state to even consider local gas sources might be a contributing factor to the DFW smog problem – although TCEQ officials are still doing their best to deny it. The largest purveyor of junk science in Texas is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Remember that in 2012, TCEQ's computer model told us to expect the lowest level of smog ever recorded in DFW. Instead we got the highest levels recorded since 2008 or so. So yeah, GIGO.

That's why it's disappointing to see the Council of Government official try to use the same strategy with this new study – whose final edits will be made by TCEQ, not an independent entity. Just like with TCEQ's Wednesday's ruling against 7000 Dallas County doctors that said there's no link between smog and public health, Rick Perry's agency can't afford to admit the state's gas plays are making the state's air illegal and unsafe.

Like San Antonio, almost every other category of pollution in DFW has decreased over the last 6 years – except gas industry pollution. It's the one category of emissions that's grown and grown and grown – to the point where the state itself admitted that the industry was releasing more smog-forming Volatile Organic Compounds than all the trucks and cars on the road in North Texas. As DFW continues to linger in violation of an almost 20-year old obsolete ozone standard, it's the gas industry that is the logical culprit for the backsliding. It's the one variable that's going the opposite direction as all the others. But despite the overwhelming evidence to the contary TCEQ is busy defending the Shale from any charges that it has the least bit of impact on area smog, even to the point of ignoring basic air modeling chemistry.

San Antonio officials may want to deny the link between the Eagle Ford and smog in their city, may want to down play it, and they'll have plenty of rhetorical help from Austin. But when it comes to TCEQ rhetoric versus the real world, the monitors in the field tell the tale. Negligence doesn't make your air cleaner.

Industrial Plumes illustrationIf you live downwind of a state line in the US, you're more likely to breathe the wastings heaved out by heavy industrial air polluters according to a new study reported on by the Washington Post today.

University of Georgia, Georgetown, and University of South Carolina political scientists collaborated on the findings, which document "State Line Syndrome, i.e. when large air polluters are disproportionately likely to be located near downwind borders instead of sharing the burden with more interior locales.

This is not a new phenomena. Lots of case law has been made by one state suing another over cross-border pollution issues. About a decade ago, the Midlothian cement plants were cited by Oklahoma and Tribal Authorities as a statistically significant contributor to haze problems at the Wichita Mountains Wilflife Refuge in the western part of he Sooner state.  However, what the new study shows is despite the lack of no logistical reason for many large air polluters to be located near a border, that's where they're concentrated anyway. The result?

"…the farther a location is from a downwind border, the lower the odds that it will host an air polluter. For instance, being about 100 miles upwind of a state line reduces the odds of an air polluter locating there (compared to a hazardous waste facility) by around 6 percent.

The effect is also strongest among the biggest polluters. The facilities that release the most toxic emissions (measured by number of pounds) are the most likely to locate near a downwind border."

But what's at least as interesting to citizens as the confirmation of concentrations, are the motives the professors hypothesize for allowing or designing these concentrations by state government:

"One is that state policy makers encourage it. For instance, Texas would surely want the economic development and tax revenue that would come from a new manufacturing plant. But the state could probably do without the resulting toxic emissions. So one option would be to encourage a manufacturer to locate on Texas’ northern border, where the wind tends to blow across the Red River into Oklahoma.

Alternatively, companies might decide on their own to build a facility in a location where pollution would be carried across state lines. Doing so might reduce the effectiveness of NIMBY, or not-in-my-backyard, activism. If the citizens who feel threatened by a plant live across the border, they may have a hard time persuading lawmakers in the facility’s state – who have little incentive to attend to the concerns of out-of-state residents – to oppose its construction or operation."

That's sounds like the paranoid ranting of a angry housewife or two we've met over the years. And it probably gives Texas officials too much credit for caring about their own airshed. But it does once again show the impossibility of trying to solve air pollution on a piecemeal basis rather than taking a firm and aggressive federalist approach to the problem. What if we dealt with infectious diseases the way we do air pollution – refusing to recognize the transport of the harmful virus across local or state lines? Science has amply demonstrated that we do all indeed live downwind. Time for policy to catch-up.

One of the most basic arguments of industry opponents of clean air regulations is that they really don't do that much to improve public health. Given all the studies concluding that increases in air pollution lead to increases in illness and death, this argument is every bit as plausible as denying global warming at this point. But that doesn't stop industry and their supporters in elected office quit trying.

Out of New York and via the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology comes a three year study (2004-2006) that tracks decreases in ozone pollution to increases in public health, specifically fewer hospital admissions for respiratory problems. Overall, a decrease of about 9% in ozone pollution lead to an 11% decrease in hospitalizations. That's significant, bordering on one-to-one percentage point drop.

The study followed the progress of the EPA's NOx Budget Trading Program (BTP), a cap and trade system established for East Coat states to help them reduce their ozone, or smog pollution, that ran from 2004 to 2008, when it was replaced by the older, Bush-era version of the EPA's cross-stare pollution rules. It looked at all of New York in terms of eight regions throughout the state. Drops in smog averaged 9% but were substantially lower during the critical summer "ozone season."

According to the folks at the Environmental Health News:

"Regulations do work to lower pollution, which in turn can improve respiratory health.

Ozone levels decreased across the state of New York and hospital admissions for respiratory disease dipped in half of the regions studied after the EPA's regulatory program started. There were also notable decreases in hospital admissions for certain respiratory illnesses, most age groups and most health insurance groups.

The reduced admissions for those on public assistance suggests that low income residents may have benefited the most from air quality improvements. This would be an important achievement since this group often experiences the highest air pollution exposures.

These results are consistent with the limited number of other studies that compare pollution levels and health before and after required air pollution reductions."

It says more about the opposition to new regulations that we still have to have studies proving that less crap in the air means less illness and death. This has been a settled scientific fact for some time. But Industry pays big money for it to be a still-disputed political fact.

Inventorying the "most ambitious clean air rules in decades"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reuters has the run down on the plethora of new EPA clean air rules coming down in the next year or so, including resolution of the cross-state regs, vehicle efficiency, fracking emissions, Greenhouse Gases, and Coal Ash rules. We know there's been a lot of justifiable disappointment with this Administration, but please look at this agenda and try to imagine that any part of it would be coming from an EPA run by any of the current GOP presidential candidates. It's pretty much impossible.  

When a Power Plant Spews Its Crap in China, It Causes a Drought in Texas?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Many of you know the cliche of Chaos Theory made famous by  "Jurassic Park's" Jeff Goldblum, that "when a butterfly flaps its wings in China, it causes a hurricane in Florida." Now science has produced the environmental equivalent of that theory by showing how massive amounts of air pollution from China is affecting weather patterns in the western U.S. CBS News interviews a scientist working on the relationship at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. "The atmosphere has no walls. So pollution on this side of the world can make it the other side of the world in about five days," she says. In this case, Chinese PM/soot is carried by the jet stream across the Pacific and stops the clouds in the western U.S. from producing rain and snow.  

The Gaseous Story Behind Wise and Hood Counties Being Added to DFW Non-Attainment Area

Monday, December 12, 2011

Late Friday EPA announced that it was recommending two more North Texas counties – Wise and Hood – join the current nine-county DFW "non-attainment" area for smog, or ozone pollution for purposes of trying to reach the new 75 parts per billion federal standard. In doing so, the EPA disagreed with the latest State of Texas plan to leave the non-attainment area boundaries unchanged. But as the Star-Telegram points out today, that wasn't the original position of the state. In 2008, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality suggested both Wise and Hood be included in DFW's smog zone. According to the documents submitted to EPA by TCEQ supporting this inclusion (accessible via a link in the S-T article),"Wise County produces significant stationary source emissions, ranking 2nd in the 13-county air quality planning area for NOx emissions in 2005. Hood County, the thirteenth county in the air quality planning area, has a design value of 84 parts per billion for 2005 through 2007, and a preliminary design value for 2006 through 2008 of 77 parts per billion."  But, as the S-T story points out, TCEQ commissioners requested that Wise be removed from the recommendation to the governor’s office in December of 2008 and Hood was cut out of the recommendation less than two months ago. Supposedly, these counties were removed by the state because ozone averages up to and including 2010 were lower than the ones in previous years. But that's only one criterion and since Wise doesn't have  monitor at all – because TCEQ is afraid of what it might find – that's not a legitimate argument for its absence on the TCEQ list to EPA. But wait there's more. In the documents EPA sent the state to justify both Wise and Hood Counties being included, it cites a number of different factors, including new emissions from Barnett Shale gas production. EPA used a national 2008 comprehensive emissions inventory to account for how much smog-producing Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) were coming from each North Texas county. According to this data, Hood County had 5500 tons a year of NOx emissions, and 9500 tons a year of VOCs FROM ALL SOURCES,while Wise had 12,000 tons a year of NOx and 23,700 tons a year of VOCs. Those are big enough numbers to get noticed. And yet EPA notes that a year later, TCEQ did its own Barnett Shale emissions inventory and found even higher totals for some counties. For Hood, Shale production accounted for 7000 tons a year of NOx – or more than 1500 tons more a year than the EPA's inventory of all sources in Hood County combined. VOCs from gas pollution accounted for 2100 tons a year, or almost a quarter of the EPA inventory total. In Wise, TCEQ's shale inventory found 2500 tons of NOX, and 6000 tons of VOCs a year being emitted from gas production. In addition, EPA traced back where dirty air came from on high ozone days at selected Tarrant County and Parker County smog monitors. It concluded that these "back trajectories" for the Eagle Mountain Lake and Parker County monitors "further support that air that is transported from Hood and Wise Counties ends up in the area when ozone exceedences are observed." As we noted on Friday, this is the first time in the two decade battle over DFW air quality that gas industry air pollution has been a reason for including a county in the DFW non-attainment area. That's what makes this latest announcement such a milestone, and worthy of more discussion in places like the Dallas and Denton gas drilling task forces that are charged with re-writing those cities gas mining ordinances.   

Senate Blocks Rollback of EPA Interstate Pollution Rules

Monday, November 21, 2011

Six Republican Senators joined their Democratic colleagues to thwart an attempt to rollback EPA'srecently announced Cross State Pollution Rules that requires approximately 30 states, including Texas, to curb emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, which contribute to smog and haze problems in other states. President Obama had threatened to veto the legislation if it had managed to get out of the Senate, although despite two years of trying, House Republicans have yet to find a piece of EPA rollback legislation that can make it through the other chamber. But that won't keep them from trying. Expect to hear about similar results in the coming weeks for bills nullifying the 2008 cement plant emission standards, the 2010 rules for small boilers and incinerators and other clean air legislation.  

Better late than never: Texas Monthly does the Perry vs EPA story

Friday, November 18, 2011

TM's Nate Blakeslee gets the assignment to track down how Rick Perry runs against those crazy environmentalists and EPA the way George Wallace ran against those crazy civil rights marchers and the Justice Department. He can't quite bring himself to mention Downwinders' name when establishing Region 6 EPA Administrator Al Armendariz' credentials but we're represented nonetheless as, "a citizens’ group that won a judgment against one of the many cement manufacturing companies south of Dallas, which have long contributed to the Metroplex’s intractable air pollution problems." Nothing much new here, especially for those of us living this story, but it's good to see Perry's disastrous run for the Presidency have some decent side-effects like coverage of his anti-environmental stances. 
 

"The most dangerous attacks on clean air since the Clean Air Act was signed"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the House Republican assault on the Clean Air Act, including gutting rules that would reduce smog, mercury poisoning, and toxic air pollution of all kinds. Every week from now until Thanksgiving, Republicans will be targeting a different EPA policy for destruction, including the 15-years-in-the-making emission rules for cement plants that Downwinders was instrumental in winning in 2008.

Ozone Season Goes Out in Orange

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

UPDATE: 8:30 PM    Things cooled off rapidly after 5pm and so did the ozone levels, just in the nick of time too. The Keller monitor barely escapes establishing a new season "4th high" and setting off a chain reaction that would have increased the entire regional ozone average by a part per billion or so. Instead, it merely tied its 4th highest reading of 95 ppb and the region's Design Value stays at 90 ppb. Parker County did set a record today – its highest 8-hour average this summer, also at 95 ppb. Another day like today and it could be the 7th monitor out of compliance this year. Eagle Mountain Lake also saw its highest 8-hour average reading this year at 87ppb. A final middle finger salute to DFW from the Smog Monster in what's been the worst year for ozone since 2006? We still have a week and a half to go until "ozone season" ends.

Cause and Effect: Ozone Rule Opponents Are 4 of Top 10 Obama Contributors

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Washington Independent digs around the Obama campaign money machine and finds all kinds of well-known polluters giving money to the President even as they trash the Administration's environmental policies:  

Report: Clean Air – Not Just for White People Anymore

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Latinos would have a higher risk of disease and death without the (now gutted ozone) standards and would be affected more than other groups because they’re more likely to live in polluted areas, according to a report released by five groups. Asthma, bronchitis, organ damage and death rates would increase among the 39 percent of Latinos who live within 30 miles of a power plant and the one in two Latinos who live in the nation’s top 25 ozone-polluted cities such as Houston and Dallas,the report said." 

I don't know but it's been said, the streets of Frisco are paved with lead.

Monday, September 19, 2011

One of the most disturbing and unforgettable images conjured up by the recent TCEQ  inspection report on the Exide lead smelter in downtown Frisco is the revelation that for a number of years it was routine for the town's streets to be paved with highly contaminated lead slag waste from the facility.  

Inventorying the "most ambitious clean air rules in decades"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reuters has the run down on the plethora of new EPA clean air rules coming down in the next year or so, including resolution of the cross-state regs, vehicle efficiency, fracking emissions, Greenhouse Gases, and Coal Ash rules. We know there's been a lot of justifiable disappointment with this Administration, but please look at this agenda and try to imagine that any part of it would be coming from an EPA run by any of the current GOP presidential candidates. It's pretty much impossible.

When a Power Plant Spews Its Crap in China, It Causes a Drought in Texas?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Many of you know the cliche of Chaos Theory made famous by  "Jurassic Park's" Jeff Goldblum, that "when a butterfly flaps its wings in China, it causes a hurricane in Florida." Now science has produced the environmental equivalent of that theory by showing how massive amounts of air pollution from China is affecting weather patterns in the western U.S. CBS News interviews a scientist working on the relationship at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. "The atmosphere has no walls. So pollution on this side of the world can make it the other side of the world in about five days," she says. In this case, Chinese PM/soot is carried by the jet stream across the Pacific and stops the clouds in the western U.S. from producing rain and snow.  

The Gaseous Story Behind Wise and Hood Counties Being Added to DFW Non-Attainment Area

Monday, December 12, 2011

Late Friday EPA announced that it was recommending two more North Texas counties – Wise and Hood – join the current nine-county DFW "non-attainment" area for smog, or ozone pollution for purposes of trying to reach the new 75 parts per billion federal standard. In doing so, the EPA disagreed with the latest State of Texas plan to leave the non-attainment area boundaries unchanged. But as the Star-Telegram points out today, that wasn't the original position of the state. In 2008, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality suggested both Wise and Hood be included in DFW's smog zone. According to the documents submitted to EPA by TCEQ supporting this inclusion (accessible via a link in the S-T article),"Wise County produces significant stationary source emissions, ranking 2nd in the 13-county air quality planning area for NOx emissions in 2005. Hood County, the thirteenth county in the air quality planning area, has a design value of 84 parts per billion for 2005 through 2007, and a preliminary design value for 2006 through 2008 of 77 parts per billion."  But, as the S-T story points out, TCEQ commissioners requested that Wise be removed from the recommendation to the governor’s office in December of 2008 and Hood was cut out of the recommendation less than two months ago. Supposedly, these counties were removed by the state because ozone averages up to and including 2010 were lower than the ones in previous years. But that's only one criterion and since Wise doesn't have  monitor at all – because TCEQ is afraid of what it might find – that's not a legitimate argument for its absence on the TCEQ list to EPA. But wait there's more. In the documents EPA sent the state to justify both Wise and Hood Counties being included, it cites a number of different factors, including new emissions from Barnett Shale gas production. EPA used a national 2008 comprehensive emissions inventory to account for how much smog-producing Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) were coming from each North Texas county. According to this data, Hood County had 5500 tons a year of NOx emissions, and 9500 tons a year of VOCs FROM ALL SOURCES,while Wise had 12,000 tons a year of NOx and 23,700 tons a year of VOCs. Those are big enough numbers to get noticed. And yet EPA notes that a year later, TCEQ did its own Barnett Shale emissions inventory and found even higher totals for some counties. For Hood, Shale production accounted for 7000 tons a year of NOx – or more than 1500 tons more a year than the EPA's inventory of all sources in Hood County combined. VOCs from gas pollution accounted for 2100 tons a year, or almost a quarter of the EPA inventory total. In Wise, TCEQ's shale inventory found 2500 tons of NOX, and 6000 tons of VOCs a year being emitted from gas production. In addition, EPA traced back where dirty air came from on high ozone days at selected Tarrant County and Parker County smog monitors. It concluded that these "back trajectories" for the Eagle Mountain Lake and Parker County monitors "further support that air that is transported from Hood and Wise Counties ends up in the area when ozone exceedences are observed." As we noted on Friday, this is the first time in the two decade battle over DFW air quality that gas industry air pollution has been a reason for including a county in the DFW non-attainment area. That's what makes this latest announcement such a milestone, and worthy of more discussion in places like the Dallas and Denton gas drilling task forces that are charged with re-writing those cities gas mining ordinances.  

Senate Blocks Rollback of EPA Interstate Pollution Rules

Monday, November 21, 2011

Six Republican Senators joined their Democratic colleagues to thwart an attempt to rollback EPA'srecently announced Cross State Pollution Rules that requires approximately 30 states, including Texas, to curb emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, which contribute to smog and haze problems in other states. President Obama had threatened to veto the legislation if it had managed to get out of the Senate, although despite two years of trying, House Republicans have yet to find a piece of EPA rollback legislation that can make it through the other chamber. But that won't keep them from trying. Expect to hear about similar results in the coming weeks for bills nullifying the 2008 cement plant emission standards, the 2010 rules for small boilers and incinerators and other clean air legislation.

Better late than never: Texas Monthly does the Perry vs EPA story

Friday, November 18, 2011

TM's Nate Blakeslee gets the assignment to track down how Rick Perry runs against those crazy environmentalists and EPA the way George Wallace ran against those crazy civil rights marchers and the Justice Department. He can't quite bring himself to mention Downwinders' name when establishing Region 6 EPA Administrator Al Armendariz' credentials but we're represented nonetheless as, "a citizens’ group that won a judgment against one of the many cement manufacturing companies south of Dallas, which have long contributed to the Metroplex’s intractable air pollution problems." Nothing much new here, especially for those of us living this story, but it's good to see Perry's disastrous run for the Presidency have some decent side-effects like coverage of his anti-environmental stances. 

"The most dangerous attacks on clean air since the Clean Air Act was signed"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the House Republican assault on the Clean Air Act, including gutting rules that would reduce smog, mercury poisoning, and toxic air pollution of all kinds. Every week from now until Thanksgiving, Republicans will be targeting a different EPA policy for destruction, including the 15-years-in-the-making emission rules for cement plants that Downwinders was instrumental in winning in 2008.  

Ozone Season Goes Out in Orange

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

UPDATE: 8:30 PM    Things cooled off rapidly after 5pm and so did the ozone levels, just in the nick of time too. The Keller monitor barely escapes establishing a new season "4th high" and setting off a chain reaction that would have increased the entire regional ozone average by a part per billion or so. Instead, it merely tied its 4th highest reading of 95 ppb and the region's Design Value stays at 90 ppb. Parker County did set a record today – its highest 8-hour average this summer, also at 95 ppb. Another day like today and it could be the 7th monitor out of compliance this year. Eagle Mountain Lake also saw its highest 8-hour average reading this year at 87ppb. A final middle finger salute to DFW from the Smog Monster in what's been the worst year for ozone since 2006? We still have a week and a half to go until "ozone season" ends.

Cause and Effect: Ozone Rule Opponents Are 4 of Top 10 Obama Contributors

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Washington Independent digs around the Obama campaign money machine and finds all kinds of well-known polluters giving money to the President even as they trash the Administration's environmental policies:

Report: Clean Air – Not Just for White People Anymore

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Latinos would have a higher risk of disease and death without the (now gutted ozone) standards and would be affected more than other groups because they’re more likely to live in polluted areas, according to a report released by five groups. Asthma, bronchitis, organ damage and death rates would increase among the 39 percent of Latinos who live within 30 miles of a power plant and the one in two Latinos who live in the nation’s top 25 ozone-polluted cities such as Houston and Dallas,the report said." 

I don't know but it's been said, the streets of Frisco are paved with lead.

Monday, September 19, 2011

One of the most disturbing and unforgettable images conjured up by the recent TCEQ  inspection report on the Exide lead smelter in downtown Frisco is the revelation that for a number of years it was routine for the town's streets to be paved with highly contaminated lead slag waste from the facility.