One Breathe of Fresh Air, Coming Right Up!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
April 5, 2001

Yes that's right!  One breath of fresh air, coming right up!  This week I attended two events that were absolutely exciting for what they indicate is happening to improve the quality of the air you and I breathe.

The First Event was a News Conference held by VIA regarding its ENVIRONMENTAL BUS.  Anyone who had followed a VIA bus of the past and even a few of the present, know how obnoxious it is to breathe in the fumes of the diesel from the bus.

VIA's news conference was to announce that it is acquiring 66 much cleaner fuel propane buses.  This added to 217 new buses burning "clean diesel" constitutes about 55% of the entire 520 bus fleet of VIA.  Additionally VIA runs 6 propane red streetcars, a 110-vehicle, all-propane VIA TRANS fleet and has about 60 propane service vehicles.  Finally, VIA intends to replace its entire fleet of buses within 5 years.  What a great step forward for clean air in our City and County!

The Second Event was the MOW DOWN SMOG Program held at the new CPS Solar Serve Center on San Pedro just inside the loop.  I really did not know much about this event and since my schedule is nearly nonstop, I did not take the time to really appreciate just what this event was al about.  What an impressive outpouring I was to witness though, once I got there.

The event ran from 8 a.m. till 3 p.m. and I arrived at around 10 a.m. from my 8 a.m. meeting on the Converse Emergency Service District.  The event was a great deal about what we can do to obtain up to a $75 rebate from Home Depot by turning in your old gas mower and purchasing a chordless electric mower.  I noticed that they had 3.5 and 5 horsepower mowers so the strength of these mowers is not to be taken lightly.

What really surprised me though was the seeming nonstop cars coming in and turning in their old gas mowers.  Surely some just used the program to "unload" their old mower, but many took advantage of the rebate program.  What they found in the Black & Decker mowers was a powerful, virtually pollution free, half-the-noise, switch-starting mower.  They need no gas, oil or tune-ups and it reportedly costs less than $10 per year to operate.

Since air pollution in Bexar County comes primarily from vehicles including the refueling as well as lawn care equipment, this was a good if not great start for the process of cleaning up our air by "going electric".  I have mowed a lot of lawns in my life and would have never seriously looked at an electric mower, but these are chordless and more than amply powerful.  You should check these out!

The final thing I liked about the MOW DOWN SMOG was the free emissions testing.  Since Bexar County is on the brink of being penalized for not meeting air quality standard, I wanted to know just how my car would do on the test.  My car sailed through the process and testing took about 20 minutes total.  Again, what was amazing was the seeming nonstop lineup of cars participating in the emissions testing:

One final note: a big thanks to VIA, CPS, Alamo Area Council of Governments, Bexar County, City of San Antonio, and the Texas Natural Resource and Conservation Commission for their participation and leadership in putting on this great educational even.  WOAI and Home Depot also contributed to the eventĀ“s success.  A special thanks too, to Official Inspection Station, a private company that donated its time to acquainting participants with the kind of experience we will have in the near future when inspections become more demanding of us.  All of this is made so interesting because the sooner we clean up our air, the quicker we will breathe easier.

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