THE AIR YOU BREATHE

On my way to a family camping trip at Inks Lake (some good cliff jumping, by the way), I drove through Midlothian on Highway 67, right past the TXI cement plant. Man, it really is something to see. For anyone who has read our story “No Place Like Home,” about what TXI and the other cement plants do to our air (and water and soil), the sight gives you pause.

There’s a hearing tomorrow about the future of those plants:

Hearing to Determine What Is More Important: Children’s Health or Company Profit

Parents and Environmental Groups Plan to Fight TXI Midlothian Cement Plant’s Old Permit Application to Shut Down Pollution Control Technology

(DALLAS) — While the Dallas-Ft. Worth area struggles to find a way to reduce smog, the state environmental agency cut a backroom deal with TXI Operations, L.P., a Midlothian cement plant, to shut down its pollution control technology. The result will significantly increase emissions of toxic and smog forming pollutants. Outraged parents and environmental groups demand the state agency protect people over profits. A hearing to determine which is more important will be held June 7, 2005, City Council Chambers, 401 South Rogers Street, Waxahachie, Texas 75165. Parents and environmental groups will hold a press conference at 9 AM before the hearing.

“TXI thinks it is above the law,” said Wendi Hammond, Blue Skies Alliance. “Even President George Bush’s EPA has said TXI’s request cannot be issued, but our state environmental agency is again caving to industry pressure while sacrificing the health of our children. Once again, it will be up to parents and environmental groups to ensure our environmental laws are enforced and our children protected.”

“TXI’s greed has gotten out of hand. Although TXI has enjoyed record profits while successfully operating the pollution controls, TXI claims the technology costs too much to operate because of increased natural gas prices,” said Rebecca Bornhorst, Downwinders At Risk. “Everybody is dealing with fuel price increases, including other industries. It’s a fact of life. But TXI thinks rules that apply to everyone else shouldn’t apply to them. “

TXI filed its application before Ellis County was reclassified as nonattainment for violating the Clean Air Act. Cost is no longer an excuse under the new classification. The shut down would result in significant increase of toxic emissions year round, including an almost 12% increase of smog forming emissions during the ozone season.

More information about the TXI matter is available at www.BlueSkiesAlliance.org. Blue Skies Alliance is a nonprofit coalition of community, religious and environmental groups, health officials and individuals dedicated to reducing air pollution in the North Texas area. Blue Skies Alliance is dedicated to public education and advocacy to assure a healthy environment while maintaining a balance with economic development. For more information, visit www.BlueSkiesAlliance.org. Contact: Wendi Hammond at 469/241-1997 or 972/296-9100.

Downwinders At Risk is a nonprofit coalition focused mostly on air pollution problems caused by cement kilns. For more information, visit www.DownwindersAtRisk.org. Contacts: Becky Bornhorst at 972/230-3260 or 214/912-2093; Jim Schermbeck at 806/787-6567.

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