Naked City

Clear as Mud

Alcoas Rockdale facility, the worst-polluting power 
plant in Texas.
Alcoas Rockdale facility, the worst-polluting power plant in Texas.

Anyone who breathes, take note: A U.S. Senate subcommittee this week began debate on the Clear Skies bill that the Ministry of Misleading Names – better known as the White House – has proposed to amend the 1970 Clean Air Act. The new "Clear Skies" amendment would aim to reduce three major pollutants by 70% by 2018: sulfur dioxide (linked to acid rain and soot), nitrogen oxide (ozone/smog), and mercury (birth defects). On the surface, that sounds pretty good. However, a coalition of Texas environmental groups, including the SEED Coalition, TexPIRG, and Public Citizen, warned that 70% and 2018 are too little and too late. Especially in Texas: According to EPA data, we're the fourth-worst state when it comes to sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, and the worst in both mercury and carbon dioxide, which the bill does not even address. The groups want to see emissions reductions targeted for 2008, a decade sooner than the president; they also complain that the bill would eliminate the "New Source Review" standard, which requires older power plants (the largest point sources of air pollution, including now-grandfathered facilities at Alcoa in Rockdale) to install new pollution controls when they upgrade.

But the environmentalists' arguments were not based solely on science and technology. As is the fashion among progressives in the age of Values Voters, the coalition press conference this week featured a bona fide Person of Faith who could quote the Lord's opinion on ozone – which, among other things, reduces visibility. "Now we see through a glass, darkly," said the Rev. Tom Heger of Texas Impact, quoting 1 Corinthians, and adding, "We can see clearly if legislators use good science, and good laws, and good enforcement. If not we'll see darkly. We'll cough. And we'll kill." He meant, we believe, "smite."

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond

    Naked City

    Four director possibilities rise to the top

    Naked City

    It's Square One for settlement plaintiffs

    Naked City

    Activists to push for stronger affordability language

    Naked City

    Longtime KVUE anchor leaves over contract disagreement
  • Naked City

    Fired employee claims retaliation for union organizing

    Naked City

    A flawed study suggests that abstinence-only curricula does not reduce teen sex

    Naked City

    San Antonio House candidate has ties to Pflugerville racetrack group

    Weed Watch

    Polls show medical pot has strong public support

    Naked City

    State rep presses AG for 'murderabilia' opinion

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Rachel Proctor May
Chartering Middle School
Chartering Middle School
Hoping to reach middle-schoolers who could go off track in a regular school setting, district moves forward with charter school plans

June 2, 2006

TAKS Scores Show Both Improvement and Trouble for AISD
TAKS Scores Show Both Improvement and Trouble for AISD
Numbers down for the crucial third and 11th grades

May 26, 2006

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Clear Skies Act, TexPIRG, Public Citizen, SEED Coalition, Tom Heger, Texas Impact, New Source Review

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle