About Air and Water

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jim Foster: New initiative will help the county clear the air - A new initiative will get some of the county's heaviest polluters off the road

VBy Jim Foster - Dallas News - \Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Why is your neighbor's smoking vehicle the county's business? Because pollution affects the quality of life of our residents and we have the opportunity and responsibility to do something about it.

We all understand that vehicle emissions are responsible for the majority of our air pollution problems. However, recent statistics show that over 300,000 of the 1.6 million vehicle inspections in Dallas County during 2006 were fraudulent, fictitious or improperly done. An estimated 10 percent of the vehicles on the road spew out almost 50 percent of the pollution. The air that we breathe cannot improve if we continue to allow thousands of high polluting vehicles to clog our air.In hopes of tackling the number of high polluting vehicles on our streets, Dallas County has taken the lead in forming an unprecedented coalition of sheriff's deputies, constables, district attorneys and the Texas Department of Public Safety to target and prosecute the inspectors who perform fraudulent emissions inspections. The county's action is not only in support of the State Implementation Plan to bring us within federal air quality standards, but also to make the air that we breathe healthier.

There is no precedent for a countywide effort to tackle fraudulent emissions inspections. However, all indications point toward the huge impact the program will have on our air. The North Central Texas Council of Governments estimates that we reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by .0253 tons per year for every vehicle that we bring into emissions compliance. If this program can directly or indirectly impact just 25,000 vehicles, a fraction of the vehicles not in compliance, we can reduce NOx by over 600 tons per year.

Fraudulent inspections are a detriment to us all. If these illegal operators are shut down, it will force failing vehicles to be repaired or get off the roads, providing cleaner air for everyone.

Many have concerns that elderly citizens or low-income residents unable to afford costly emissions repairs will be targeted in this program. That is not our goal. Participating deputies will be educated about the many resources available to drivers in need of financial assistance, including the state's Low Income Vehicle Repair Assistance Program, which offers up to $600 to repair a vehicle.

The impact of polluting vehicles goes far beyond the few involuntarily coughs forced from our mouths while riding behind a smoking vehicle. The impact can, and often does, last for ages.

More children are being diagnosed for asthma at a younger age. Our hospitals are treating more patients for respiratory ailments, with Parkland Hospital providing the bulk of the care. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has cited a study conducted in Atlanta showing that children's emergency room visits for asthma increased by 37 percent after six prolonged days of high ozone levels.

Remarkably, the public hospital where the study was conducted is located in a county with half the population of Dallas County. The more proactive we are about cleaning the air, the less our children and our aged will have to suffer.

As the "clean air emissions initiative" develops, we will see untold benefits from not having the highest pollution-emitting vehicles illegally operating on our roads. As a regional, state and national model for government coalitions, the Dallas County Clean Air Emissions Advisory Board will work toward a safer, stronger, less polluted county.

And, that is Dallas County's business.
Read more in the Dallas News

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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