Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Cleaning Up Some Air

A lot of publicity is a very good thing when it keeps the air and land from being despoiled. That has actually happened for and in El Paso, TX, where the state tried to reopen an old smelter that had already taken a huge toll in pollution. Officials who were friendly to business were put in charge of decisions involving the environment, and as usual Hell was deemed a suitable habitat for citizens of the state.

A series that the Dallas Morning News featured on environmental issues that saw Texas turning its back on health and safety has had a desirable effect. The business interests claim that the economy is unsuitable for reopening a polluting plant.

One of the bitterest environmental fights in Texas history ended Tuesday when Tucson-based Asarco LLC said it was dropping its effort to reopen its copper smelter in El Paso.

Instead, the company said it would tear down the smelter. Asarco attributed the decision to a "dramatic downturn of the world economy."

However, the company's announcement came on the same day when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told Texas officials that under federal law, the smelter did not qualify for the permit renewal that Texas gave the facility last year.

Without a reconsideration by Texas, the EPA might be forced to formally object to the permit, order any work on the smelter stopped, and initiate enforcement action, Acting EPA Regional Administrator Larry Starfield told Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Executive Director Mark Vickery in a letter dated Tuesday.

The smelter was in such poor condition that the EPA considered it permanently "shut down," meaning it required a complete new permit instead of a renewal of its old permit, Starfield wrote.

In addition, he wrote, new federal rules on ozone, lead and airborne particulate matter necessitated new reviews, endorsing opponents' arguments that the TCEQ rejected.

Asarco's plan to restart the smelter, northwest of downtown El Paso and just yards from Juarez, Mexico, stirred a six-year battle that pitted the company and its supporters against the city of El Paso and local and statewide environmental advocates. Opponents decried the 7,000 tons of pollution that the facility's permit would allow each year. (Emphasis added.)

The atmosphere that the right wing pretends is pro-business is one that despoils working people and destroys the economy. Environmental quality is one of its major victims.

The maladministration that came from TX went a long way toward spreading its destructive approach through all of the executive branch. It is a poison wherever it gains power. The air will be cleaner in D.C. now that it's been pitched out. Unfortunately, the poisonous attitude will be all the more power hungry following its losses.

Progressive elements in Texas have won this one, and hopefully can gain strength from actually triumphing in this public service. We are going to need that strength.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home