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Are We Choking on Pollution Yet? More Proposed!

Texans are preparing for a major rally at the Capitol at 3 PM on Sunday, February 11, to protest plans for coal-fired electricity production. Governor Perry is spearheading the proposal on behalf of utility companies. Texans, especially those in the major cities, say they have had more than enough pollution.

The Texas Committee for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has set up a number of public hearings, and environmentalists are encouraging everybody to attend. On January 31, in the Dallas Public Library, a full house listened to commentary. Even though the proposal for 17 new coal plants sets the immediate agenda, people from Dallas and the surrounding counties have to talk about the cement plants operating in Congressman Joe Barton's district, just south and upwind from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speakers said that three cement plants account for 50% of the air pollution in Dallas County!

Mayor Laura Miller of Dallas has put together a coalition of municipal leaders from all over North Texas to oppose the coal-plant proposal and speak up for cleaner air. Her spokesperson was the first speaker on January 31. She pointed out that TXU Electric's main argument was that they planned to reduce overall emissions by 20% sometime in the uncertain future. This 20%, she affirmed, had actually been mandated by federal authorities even before the coal plant proposal was made. TXU was effectively conceding nothing at all to get permission to build and operate coal plants!

Mayor Miller and her coalition have had enough media clout to refute the utility companies' media barrage. For many, the scientific argot of environmentalists is difficult to follow. They appreciate the blunt messages delivered by Downwinders at Risk leader Jim Shermbeck, whose pickup pulls a trailer holding a giant effigy of Governor Perry clutching a smokestack. The January 31 audience also appreciated Gary Stewart, spokesperson for a faith-based environmentalist group. He told the panel that more pollution in North Texas would be nothing less than a sin! They appreciated the health care expert who bemoaned the increase in respiratory diseases, especially asthma in children, in the area.

Also on January 31, scientists revealed a definitive study revealing that levels of airborne small-particle matter, smoke and mist, much lower than those in major Texas cities, caused heart disease in women!

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