For Immediate Release: 8:00 am Wednesday, June 23, 2010
News Conference: 10 AM TODAY
Where: Brand New Natural Gas Well Derrick
2376 4th Street, Ft. Worth 76102
For More Information: Jim Schermbeck 806-787-6567
As You Are On the Family Car”
Car vs Gas Well Smackdown on the Trinity
As New DFW Air Plan Gears Up
(Trinity River near downtown Ft. Worth—) A day before the first public meeting on DFW’s chronic smog problem in four years, a broad coalition of environmental and public health groups will host a “pollution control smackdown” challenging the state to be as aggressive in controlling emissions from large industrial sources as the federal government has been in cutting car pollution.
“The state often uses the excuse that since they don’t regulate automobile emissions, they aren’t responsible for the biggest share of smog pollution sources,” said Jim Schermbeck, Director of Downwinders at Risk. “But in fact it’s the coal plants, cement kilns, and now gas facilities upwind and inside DFW that it can regulate that are also keeping us in violation of the Clean Air Act.”
Schermbeck will be joined on the West Bank of the Trinity River near downtown Fort Worth by representatives from the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Interfaith Environmental Alliance, Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project, FW Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Operations, and a spokesperson from Ft. Worth Representative Lon Burnam’s office.
They’re trying to make a point about what they say is an untried strategy of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in drafting a new DFW clean air plan – significant cuts from industrial sources. TCEQ holds its first public meeting on the new plan Thursday evening at Arlington City Hall from 7 to 9 pm.
Parking a family-friendly 2007 Saturn SUV next to a new gas well derrick, the environmentalists are sponsoring a “Smackdown on the Trinity” Wednesday morning to dramatize the extreme differences in how local smog pollution sources are regulated. With a dramatic vista of downtown Fort Worth framing the scene, a couple of them will hammer two signs into the levee side-by-side. One will point to the SUV and say “90% smog pollution control.” The other will point toward the gas well and say “0% smog pollution control.”
“Every car sold in the US captures 90% or more of the smog pollution its engine emits,” said Sharon Wilson of the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project. “On the other hand, the thousands of Barnett Shale gas facilities, with few exceptions, are unregulated as a source of smog pollution to DFW. In fact, many emissions come from the industry designing the equipment to intentionally release smog-forming pollution in order to work properly.”
Wilson said older coal plants in East and Central Texas only get 50% control, and the cement kilns in Midlothian only get around 40% “on a good day.”
Schermbeck described what he called a “Perfect Storm of Industrial Pollution” affecting DFW ozone levels. Predominant southeasterly winds push the plumes from heavy industry into the Northwest part of Tarrant County, where, combined with gas development and traffic, they routinely produce the highest levels of ozone in DFW.
“The strategy of the state over the last 10 years has been to penalize the individual driver in order to go easy on large corporate polluters” he said. “We’ve got to use this new clean air plan to redress that imbalance.”
Schermbeck said it was important to attend the Thursday night TCEQ meeting to let the state know DFW residents are unhappy over the way the TCEQ is doing its job. “The Commission says it wants input on what should be in the new clean air plan. We’re urging everyone to come and really give it to them.