It’s a new day at Unfair Park as we come before you offering gushing praise for Dallas County Judge Jim Foster. Seriously. We’re not even going to add a few shots to water down our praise and keep it “edgy.” No. This post is going to be a 100 percent pro-Foster zone. We may or may not return to our regularly scheduled programming next week.
Yesterday, Foster wrote a dead-on letter to the EPA urging them to reject the state’s farce of a clean-air plan. Authored by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the plan is supposed to reduce our ozone levels so that we can be in compliance with the Clean Air Act, avoid steep federal penalties, and maybe, every now then, take a breath without a flurry of pollutants settling into our lungs. The problem is that nobody, including the EPA, believes the state’s clean-air plan is either clean or a plan. Instead, local and federal officials, environmentalists and scientists say it has no chance to work since it has eased pressures on the state’s biggest polluters and rejected more comprehensive proposals from regional folks. These proposals, which included tougher regulations on utilities and cement kilns and cleaner emissions standards for automobiles, actually had a decent shot at cleaning up our infamously noxious skies.
Anyhow, Foster’s letter was pretty great, ripping state government for ignoring the wishes of the locals, who actually have to breathe the air here and take the hit for whatever economic costs there are to their proposed regulations.
“The state is not taking local or federal input seriously, and their lack of concern about our smog problem is harming public health. Their carelessness is especially putting children and the elderly at risk for respiratory problems,” Foster wrote to Richard Greene, administrator of Region 6 of the EPA.
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Foster’s letter follows a similar missive from Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley also urging the feds to reject the state’s plan. Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck is also on record saying that the state air plan will not bring us in compliance with federal ozone standards. I called to Mayor Tom Leppert’s office to ask what he thinks of the clean-air plan but haven’t heard back.
Foster also sent off a letter to Governor Rick Perry, once again criticizing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Perry, who says he doubts the science behind global warming, should take Foster’s letter very personally. He’s the one who appoints the three member TCEQ board and has typically stocked it with industry apologists. Foster tells the guv:
“In not including these and other recommendations put forth by local officials and citizens in its final plan, the TCEQ would seem to be stifling local control of our own air quality destiny. If the much-considered suggestions from those on the ground here in DFW are not adopted, and weaker measures substituted by the state, there is little motive for anyone in North Texas to keep cooperating with the state in trying to reach the goal of clean, and legal air. The TCEQ will simply do what it wants to do anyway, regardless of the input of local authorities and experts. This is not the path to cleaner air.”
With elected officials like Foster and Whitley on record opposing the state’s air plan, the EPA now has the political cover it needs to tell the state to make it tougher. If that happens, Foster can and should take a little credit. Bravo. To see Foster's letter to Perry, click here, for Greene, click here. --Matt Pulle