A long time ago, cities used to send trucks rolling down neighborhood streets, spraying mosquito repellent into the air. Kids couldn’t resist the urge to run behind the trucks in the dense fog. It made them feel like they were playing in a fluffy cloud. Most parents back then didn’t know enough to shout out warnings such as, “Hey, honey, that toxic cloud of insect-killin’ juice you’re breathing might render you incapable of bearing children in the future!” Instead they’d say, “Sure, honey, go chase a truck down the street and breathe poison for 30 minutes, it’s fun!”
Which brings to mind the Fort Worth air quality study that was originally due … gosh, so long ago Static can’t remember. Delivery was delayed a couple of times — oddly enough, until after the city council elections and then until after the runoff. The due date was then moved to June 30, but the company, Eastern Research Group, asked for two more weeks, until July 13. After that, city spokesman Bill Begley said, the study will go up on the city’s web site “as soon as possible.” A presentation with public comments will be made at the city council meeting on July 18 — which won’t give already-skeptical citizens much chance to digest the findings.
These days, holding one’s breath can seem like a healthy idea in Fort Worth. But maybe not for as long as it’s going to take to get the air quality effects of gas drilling addressed in this town. In the meantime, city leaders are like those mothers of yore, encouraging us all to run mindlessly through the fog.
State leaders aren’t any better. The Metroplex can’t meet the outdated 1997 federal ozone standard that even the industry-friendly Bush administration declared to be too lax to protect human health. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s big idea for meeting the new and tougher standards of air quality is to do nothing — and certainly not to crack down on the cement, oil and gas, and coal-burning industries that are doing much of the polluting.
The TCEQ plan is something akin to: “Hey, everything will be fine! Really! People will trade in older cars for newer, more environmentally friendly versions in the coming years, and that will clean up the air. No problem!”
If you’re wondering why a state agency in charge of environmental quality is so protective of the polluters, you don’t know Texas politics very well.