This piece was cross-posted at The Houston, Texas Examiner
We can all do something to help improve air quality. This is the message of the Air North Texas campaign and the impetus behind their annual Clean Air Action Day. On July 7th from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (220.127.116.11), North Texans are encouraged to take a pledge to take action, preferably an action they’ve never taken before, to “go green, breathe clean.”
According to Mindy Mize, Program Manager with the North Central Texas Council of Governments and coordinator for Dallas-Fort Worth’s Clean Cities program,
the Air North Texas campaign was designed to provide the citizens of North Texas simple ideas on how they can improve air quality, since we are in serious nonattainment for the pollutant ozone as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency
She expressed the campaign’s hope that North Texans will see how easy and simple it is to contribute to cleaner air and will want to do it not only for Ozone Season, but all year.
The idea of a Clean Air Action Day was hatched in 2007 and launched in 2008. This year the Texas Clean Air Coalition, one of the many Air North Texas partners, wanted to add an ozone awareness event. They held an alternative fuels expo where they sought to educate public agencies and businesses with large fleets and the public about clean vehicle and fuel opportunities. This event, held at one of the stops on Fort Worth’s Trinity Railway Express line, included a barbeque lunch and a panel discussion lead by alternative energy professionals and media. A crowd of over 200, who were encouraged to arrive by transit, got the opportunity to test drive alternative fueled vehicles (the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt were on display); check out a propane-powered lawn mower; and behold municipal alternative vehicles like Fort Worth’s new city bus that runs on compressed natural gas and a diesel-electric hybrid school bus. (See Star-Telegram’s coverage of the event HERE).
The crux of the Clean Air Action Day message is that every single person must do their part, and if each person takes one or two small steps, the air quality in their area will improve. North Texans were encouraged to take a pledge to participate on Clean Air Action Day to do one or more of the following–
- Use mass transit
- Biking or walking
- Take lunch to work or summer activities
- Observe speed limits
- Combine trips or planning drive-less trips
- Avoid idling
- Use technology—teleconferencing video conferencing—to reduce trips for meetings
- Report smoking or polluting vehicles
- Stay up-to-date on car maintenance, state emissions and safety inspections
- Switch to compact florescent light bulbs
- Invest and use reusable water and coffee bottles
- Spread the word
North Texas has a great thing going. Their commitment to informing the public and effectuating change on the grassroots level is commendable. I reported earlier this summer about The North Texas Clean Air Coalition’s 2011 Commuter Challenge. This is another yearly event that draws North Texans into the clean air fight, by encouraging commuters to leave their cars at home.
The more the public is aware of our clean air challenges locally, the better equipped we are to bring about big-impact changes statewide. To be certain, we Texans have much bigger fish to fry on the air pollution front. Since Texas has major pollution issues, proactivity and responsibility are key on every level. While we are riding our bikes and taking our lunches to work, we also need to be cognizant of the 19 coal-fired power plants spewing toxins into our air. We need to be watching out for the ten additional coal-fired plants that are in various stages of permitting and construction– Can everyone say, White Stallion? While we are championing alternative fuels and changing the way we live to better impact our air, we also need to step up and demand that our electricity providers do the same.
I appreciate and applaud the awesome efforts of the North Central Texas Council of Governments and all of the partners behind Air North Texas. Every year, they have stepped-up their clean air game. If activism begins at home, then the Air North Texas campaign is reaching and drawing citizenry to the clean air cause and moving them in the direction of activism on behalf of the entire state.
Cross-posted at Mom’s Clean Air Force!
photo credit: Dreamstime.com