Last month, I highlighted some Texas cities working to educate their citizens on the importance of air quality. Because air pollution is a persistent problem throughout Texas, the state’s largest cities all maintain websites focusing on ways to mitigate emissions and take precautions when air pollution reaches concentrations considered to be unhealthy. While these informational campaigns promote voluntary reductions in emissions, they aren’t sufficient to keep air quality under control.
Regional coalitions all over the state are at the front line forging needed partnerships to achieve major emissions reductions and improve the quality of air across Texas. The following are a few organizing leading the effort:
- Clean Air Force (CAF) of Central Texas brings together local government, the private sector and other stakeholders to reveal the most effective strategies to improve air quality. CAF partners with Central Texas business leaders such as Dell, National Instruments and Samsung, as well as nonprofit and public partners like The University of Texas at Austin, the City of Austin and our own Texas EDF office. CAF’s partners create an emissions baseline and then pledge to reduce their ozone-forming emissions by 10 percent within three years of joining the program. The pledge encourages employers to promote public transit use, carpooling, low-emission construction and energy conservation—all of which save employers and employees money.
- Air North Texas (ANT) is another regional coalition working to promote education and collaboration on air quality. Its Be Air Aware campaign provides focused strategies for individuals, businesses and governments to reduce their emissions on Air Pollution Action Days. Because ANT’s coalition involves numerous partners, these simple recommendations go a long way toward reducing ozone pollution. ANT is also working with Clean Air Texas to award businesses doing their part to reduce ozone and recognize organizations with low-emission vehicle fleets.
- The Houston-Galveston Area Council’s (HGAC) Transportation Department has a number of programs intended to improve the region’s air quality. HGAC provides clean air education for area residents, so that they can understand the best ways to improve local air quality. HGAC also organizes a Clean Vehicles Program, which awards grants to help local businesses reduce ozone pollution from their fleet vehicles. HGAC’s Clean Cities Coalition goes a step further, promoting the use of alternative, cleaner fuels over petroleum. Doing so reduces ozone-forming emissions and goes a long way toward reducing the state’s massive carbon emissions. Of course, as you’ve read before on our blog, HGAC also administers the Clean Truck Program for the region, providing financial incentives for turnover of older, more polluting trucks.
The progress regional clean air campaigns have made toward improving air quality in Texas is admirable. Excessive air pollution is a threat to all Texans—after all, we breathe the same air. Bringing together local governments, business leaders and the general public is one of the best ways to promote simple strategies to lessen ozone pollution and promote better health for the entire state. EDF applauds these groups for achieving cleaner air and protecting the health of all Texans.