|Wednesday, August 23, 2000||
Volume 66, Issue 3
Salnave on funding
Ed De La Garza
Miriam A. Garcia
Texas, our (cough) Texas
As this year's presidential campaign enters the home stretch, Texas is left in an interesting position -- no, strike that. It's not interesting at all. It's downright shameful. Texas has become a national laughingstock.
We know what you Yankees are saying: "We always thought there was plenty to laugh at here." But seriously, the Lone Star State has lately received a great deal of bad press about what has become a sore spot across the city and state: pollution.
Last year, Houston had the distinction (albeit brief) of knocking Los Angeles from its position of The Nation's Smog Leader. And since then, we've heard nothing but how bad our air and water pollution really is. Reports indicate Texas pollutes more than any other state or Canadian province, that we lead the nation in toxic releases, suspected airborne carcinogens and airborne developmental toxins, among others.
In Houston, a city built on the fortunes of oil barons, the refineries continue spouting out pollutants at a shocking rate -- according to the Los Angeles Times, Houston's plants and refineries pollute as much as those in Los Angeles 20 years ago. That was before Los Angeles decided to clean up its act, so to speak, and imposed strict regulations on its refineries.
The criticism of our state has only increased since the Democratic National Convention. Houston is the filthiest city in the United States, Texas' pollution is only getting worse, and Gov. George W. Bush is to blame for the whole mess.
Or is he? Of course not. Our love affair with pollutants has its roots much farther back than 1994, when Bush took office. And that Bush has taken a rather casual approach to cleaning up our air -- at least until recently, when the federal government demanded improvement -- isn't anything new for Texas governors. But now, facing a 2007 deadline for cleaning up the air, the question is: Can we do it?
The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission has already issued similar cleaner-air plans for Dallas and Houston, and plans are under way to require local industrial plants to slash their polluting emissions.
Of course, many of the measures that will be imposed are voluntary, and Texans -- Houstonians in particular -- don't necessarily have a good record when it comes to self-regulation. What Texas needs is a feasible but forceful plan that will give us a cleaner state, not more finger-pointing and political double talk, in seven years.
Whether what we need is what we'll get, however, remains to be seen.