Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: I'm not holding my breath, but... .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I'm not holding my breath, but...

... maybe I should be.

Air toxics levels prompt public meetings
Inspections to begin at 28 industrial plants

No matter how you slice it , Houston's air quality leaves a lot to be desired. But it appears that, at last, those that can do something about it are finally waking up and smelling the 1,3-butadiene.

Apparently, a study done in 2003 that detected toxic levels of the carcinogen in an east side park and a subsequent Houston Chronicle investigation have prompted our elected officials to finally address the matter. A series of town hall meetings have been scheduled over the next few weeks to determine the best course of action to deal with not only the parties responsible for excess emmisions causing the pollution, but the apathy of lawmakers and gubmint bureaucrats towards the public's concerns.

Last week, Houston Mayor Bill White was very vocal in his pledge to push monitoring and accountability. Now it seems Councilmembers, environmental advocates, and even Congressmen are jumping on the bandwagon. It's good to see public hysteria being used for something good for a change.

Seperately, but probably not coincidentally:

State environmental officials will begin inspections this month at 28 industrial plants in the Houston area that reported releasing more than 1,200 pounds of unauthorized pollution. The investigations are one of two initiatives announced Monday by the state to improve air quality in the region.

In addition to the probes at industrial plants — which will focus on four highly reactive chemicals that help form ground-level ozone — agency inspectors will conduct investigations of 100 diesel engines used by facilities along the Ship Channel to generate emergency power. These engines release nitrogen oxides, another potent smog creator.

I, for one, look forward to the day when I can drive east of downtown and not be pummeled by the olifactory assault that has become so familiar. But more importantly, the children that live in those neighborhoods will not have to grow up and confront whatever ailments will eventually be discovered to be caused by exposure to those chemicals.

Let's hope the current fervor over air quality doesn't get quashed by the "economic impact" that the polluters will undoubtedly bring forth as their excuse not to clean up their acts, and that this movement thrives not only in Houston, but in the county and state as well. After all, our current exposure standards (which are looser than any other industrial state) are determined at the state level.

I have a good feeling about the direction we're heading here. But only time will tell whether we stay the course and actually do something about it. Then I'll breathe easier.


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