About Air and Water

Monday, May 28, 2007

EPA, State Officials Plan Meeting on Clean-Air Plan

By Scott Streater, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas - Saturday, 26 May 2007

May 26--The federal Environmental Protection Agency continues to press the state over last-minute changes that appear to weaken an ozone clean-up for Dallas-Fort Worth.

Top administrators with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are set to meet next week in Dallas with federal Environmental Protection Agency officials to try and resolve the EPA's concerns that the plan will not bring the Dallas-Fort Worth region into compliance with the ozone standards.

The tension between the two sides is unusual because the state commission and the EPA worked together closely to develop the State Implementation Plan, which outlines exact steps the region must take to meet federal ozone standards by a 2010 deadline.

The state formally approved the plan Wednesday with reduced requirements. Before the vote, EPA Regional Administrator Richard Greene warned state leaders in a memo that the revisions to the plan would make it difficult to win federal approval; the EPA has the ultimate say-so as to whether it is approved.

He said later that he and his staff were "surprised" and "puzzled" by the changes, which were made without informing the EPA.

"They didn't contact us," Greene said. "They just posted it on their Web site and one of our staff members discovered it just a very few days ago."

But Andy Saenz, a spokesman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in Austin, said state officials did inform the EPA of the changes before they were made.
Read more

Friday, May 25, 2007

TXU inks wind power deal

Dallas Business Journal - May 15, 2007
TXU Corp. has inked a deal with Airtricity, a Dublin, Ireland, renewable energy company, that will add 209 megawatts of wind power to TXU's portfolio.

Under the five-year deal Airtricity will provide Dallas-based TXU (NYSE: TXU) with wind power from a wind farm Airtricity is building southwest of Abilene. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
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Chesapeake Energy to begin drilling at D/FW Airport

Dallas Business Journal - Monday, May 21, 2007
Chesapeake Energy Corp. said Monday it will begin drilling this week on the first of more than 300 natural gas wells at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
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SPEAK OUT: Public Hearings in June '07


The UPWP for Regional Transportation Planning provides a summary of the transportation and related air quality planning tasks conducted by the Metropolitan Planning Organization. (RTC of the NCTCOG)

The draft Fiscal Year 2008 and Fiscal Year 2009 UPWP
and modifications to the Fiscal Year 2006 and Fiscal Year 2007 Work Program
will be presented at three
PUBLIC HEARINGS by the NCTCOG in June 2007.

How does this impact you?

Failure to reach Federal Air Quality Attainment levels impacts transportation funding and is cited as one reason for the shift from funding roads with gas tax money to converting public state and federal highways to toll roads.

Federal Grants for Air Quality Projects must be included
in the Air Quality Plan.



The 2030 Mobility Plan calls for adding 675 more miles of tolled freeways or tolled lanes to existing highways in the DFW Region in the next 30 years.

(It calls for only 70 additional miles of non-tolled highways).

Changes in the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) must be submitted for public comment. (It's a 521 page document covering transportation plans for 2008-2011.

As a citizen, this is your chance to say what you think about adding toll lanes or converting existing highways to toll roads in the DFW Area.

The RTC favors funding new highway construction with private/public partnerships (CDAs) with toll rates higher than necessary to retire the debt and maintain the roads so that substantial surplus toll revenue can be generated over 50 year contracts to fund other regional transportation projects.
If this is what you want, state your opinion. If you do not favor turning most of the major roads in the DFW metroplex into toll roads or adding additional capacity as tolled HOV lanes, this is where you should speak out.
Proposed projects include:

I-30, SH 360, SH 121, SH 161, I-9, Airport Freeway, DFW Connector, and other strategic corridors.
DFW Regional Concerned Citizens will attend these hearings.
If you'd like to join us in preparing for these public hearing call 817 795-2519.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

State gives OK to ozone plan

By SCOTT STREATER - Star-Telegram staff writer - Thu, May. 24, 2007
The state approved a controversial plan Wednesday for fixing Dallas-Fort Worth's longstanding ozone pollution problem despite a last-minute warning from a top federal official that the plan may be too weak to win federal approval.

Richard Greene, the Environmental Protection Agency's regional director in Dallas, sent a memo to state regulators Wednesday saying a preliminary federal review of the plan found "significantly fewer emissions reductions" than originally proposed.

Without those additional reductions, Greene said, ozone levels in four areas -- Fort Worth, Dallas, Denton and Frisco -- could continue to violate federal standards by the 2010 federal deadline.

All 19 of the region's ozone monitors must meet the standards for the Dallas-Fort Worth area to comply.

"The state has no desire to really regulate these kilns," he said.

State commissioners, during the nearly four-hour hearing in Austin on the Dallas-Fort Worth plan, defended their decision, saying they believe the plan will be enough for the region to meet the federal standards by 2010.

The plan

The clean-air plan for North Texas approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Wednesday:

Requires cement kilns to cut ozone-forming emissions by 40 percent, less than local leaders had hoped.

Curbs vehicle emissions through ongoing state programs to replace or retrofit off-road construction equipment with pollution controls, to replace the oldest, dirtiest vehicles and to assist low-income motorists in making repairs if their car or truck fails the annual emissions inspection.

Counts on Federal Reformulated Gasoline standards to reduce automobile emissions.

Pushes for expansion of programs to promote carpooling and public transit.

"I am very concerned by these reports, and worry that the changes from the proposal, if adopted, would convert the [plan] from one that I believed had a strong chance of approval to [a plan] that ... may not be approvable," Greene wrote.

Local opposition

Greene's concerns were echoed by a wide array of area leaders and clean-air advocates, who said the plan could doom the area to potentially severe federal sanctions for noncompliance.

"Apparently, they don't consider what we think is important for our communities," Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said.

"I think it's a tragedy that we don't do everything that we can to keep the air as clean as possible. I'm very disappointed."

Of particular concern are three cement plants -- Ash Grove Cement, TXI Operations and Holcim Inc. -- southeast of Fort Worth that are the largest industrial sources of ozone-forming pollution in the region.

The plan approved Wednesday calls for the plants to cut emissions by 40 percent.

But local leaders wanted the state to include a mandate for the cement plants to at least test cutting-edge pollution-control technology that would chemically change emissions into harmless water vapor.

The technology has the potential to slash ozone-forming emissions from the three plants by as much as 90 percent.

The state clean-air plan, however, calls for much lower emissions reductions, allowing the industry to install less expensive -- and less effective -- pollution controls.

"We think this community is still in danger from emissions from the cement kilns in Midlothian," Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks said. "Without more stringent standards, the state has not done anything to help us at all."

State backing

Instead, the state commission Wednesday amended the clean-air plan to allow cement plants to emit slightly more ozone-forming pollutants than originally proposed after cement industry leaders told the commission's three-member board during its meeting in Austin that the plan was too tough.

"We cannot achieve these low numbers," said Michel Moser, the manager at Holcim's Midlothian cement plant.

Jim Schermbeck with Downwinders at Risk, a vocal cement plant critic, said he wasn't surprised.
Read more

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Barnett Shale gas field paying off

55,000 jobs, homeowner royalties part of $5B impact
By LAURIE FOX / The Dallas Morning News - Thursday, May 17, 2007

The financial reach of the Barnett Shale touches all facets of life, generating a $5 billion local economic impact and more than 55,000 jobs.

Pipeline workers find jobs digging miles of trenches. Homeowners collect royalty checks from leases. And cities build roads and sidewalks with money earned from drilling under parks.
Read more

Water bill omits Dallas

Legislature: N. Texas lawmakers upset by House proposal
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News - Wednesday, May 23, 2007

AUSTIN – The House endorsed the state's first major water planning bill in a decade Tuesday, a measure that protects streams, rivers and estuaries, conserves water and designates more than a dozen future reservoir sites across Texas.

But the measure, which Dallas officials hoped would protect years of water planning efforts, now does nothing but hinder them, North Texas lawmakers say. Reservoirs that the area has counted on have been stripped from the bill, and the measure limits the region's ability to acquire future water sources.

As lawmakers debated the bill for several hours, many amendments were tacked on with a clear anti-Dallas sentiment, as House members from East Texas and elsewhere complained that Dallas wasn't doing its part by conserving enough. North Texas representatives say that the area is booming and needs to plan for rapid population growth.

The measure faces one more House vote today, and then differences between the House's version and what the Senate approved in March must be negotiated. Dallas officials hope to win some concessions during those negotiations.

But the bill in its current form "does not solve any of Dallas' short or long term needs," said Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas. "It's a disappointment when a major bill like this is written on the floor. What came out of the House hurts Dallas more than helps."

One amendment approved Tuesday would require the state's water districts to bring down their average per capita water consumption to below 200 gallons a day before they can add new reservoirs to their water plans. Dallas is currently the only big city in Texas that surpasses this threshold, lawmakers said; its water customers use an average 264 gallons per capita per day.
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Travel to other worlds ... UTA Planetarium

Immersive full-dome 3-D Digital planetarium show narrated by Ewan McGregor (Obi wan Kepobi from Star Wars) - Astronaut takes you exporing the worlds of inner and outer space. The movie is projected all around you. You recline in specially constructed chairs which enables you to comfortably view the immersive full-dome planetarium show. Astronaut! (produced from the National Space Centre in England) goes beyond the stereotypical space movie. Experience a rocket launch from inside the body of the astronaut. Float around the international Space Station moving thorugh the microscopic regions of the human body! Discover the beauty and perils as "Chad", the test astronaut experiences everything thrown at him.

Summer Schedule (June 2-August 26):


shows at the UTA Planetarium.

Wed. through Saturdays at 11 a.m.
and Thursday at 7:00 p.m.

Cosmic CSI

shows at the UTA Planetarium 3-D Digital Dome.

Wed. through Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Rock Hall of Fame 1 (The Original)

shows at the UTA Planetarium.

Thursday at 8:00 p.m.

Read more (Warning their flat dull website doesn't give much of a glimmer of the multi-dimensional experience you'll have once you enter the dome of the UTA Planetarium!)

Admission: Adults: $5.00

Seniors, Students, Children: $4.00

UTA Faculty, Staff & Alumni (with ID): $3.00

UTA Studens (with ID): $2.00

Groups of 10 or more with reservation: $3.00

Call 817 272-1183 or e-mail planetarium@uta.edu