OK, everybody, close your mouth and pinch your nostrils shut. Hold that for as long as you can. Now, just before you pass out, open your mouth and take a deep breath. Isn’t that nice? You almost forget how delicious clean air is until you’ve done without. Of course, in the Metroplex, that big gulp of air might not taste so nice. And your eyes might be burning from the pollution (see our Metro story just above, for instance).

The Environmental Protection Agency has a plan to help tackle those dirty skies and is calling on North Texans to cough up their suggestions. The North Texas Clean Air Task Force, composed of groups such as the Sierra Club, Downwinders at Risk, and Public Citizen, is hosting a public hearing at 3 p.m. on March 16 at Arlington City Hall to discuss the EPA’s proposed new eight-hour ozone standard.


The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Gov. Rick Perry, and major polluting industries that scratch those officials’ backs are resisting the stronger standards and trotting out all the old scare tactics. Tougher rules will cost jobs, they say. Ozone pollution doesn’t cause health problems, they say. Pigs fly, they say.

“We want to make the case that oil and gas drilling needs to be considered in the monitoring because they are a huge part of the problem,” local activist Sharon Wilson said.

at the hearing and let Austin lawmakers know how you feel. Reserve your chance to speak by e-mailing or calling the Sierra Club at 817-924-1997.


Speaking Now, Part Two

Whoa, neighbor, don’t leave yet. We’ve got another chance for you to speak your mind to the powers that be. The power in this case being U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, and the topic being public access to public records.

Anyone who’s interested and willing to pay $10 for breakfast is invited to turn out on Monday, March 15, to hear the senator talk about the work of ensuring that “freedom of information” is a reality and not just a nice term to throw around. Cornyn sponsored major open-records legislation in recent years as well as a bill that makes it easier for taxpayers to figure out how federal money is being spent.

There are two catches: (a) You have to be willing to roll out of bed in time to get to the old RadioShack (now Tarrant County College) campus on the west end of downtown by 8 a.m. or so on Monday. And (b) you have to e-mail your reservation by noon Wednesday — yes, that’s March 10. Otherwise, there might not be enough eggs and bacon to go around.

Cornyn’s visit is being co-sponsored by the local professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and TCC’s student publication office. For details, hit the SPJ web site at or call Eddye Gallagher (a poo-bah with both organizations) at 817-515-6307.