Why Do We Play Economic, Health & Security Roulette?
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
March 2, 2006
In the headline on last Saturday's Express-News Business Section it read, "A jittery oil market hit again". The article stated, "Suicide bombers in explosives-packed cars attacked the heavily guarded facility but were foiled when guards opened fire, detonating the vehicles and killing the attackers." The story says that the Abqaiq oil complex processes about two-thirds of Saudia Arabia's oil before it's exported. Sooner or later we must learn and act on the reality that one of our most vital resources affecting the strength of our nation is produced in one of the most dangerous places in the world.
We want 1. secure, 2. reasonably priced, 3. clean energy, 4. that invests in Texas and in America. Bexar County is attempting to do its share to begin this process of de-linking itself from near total dependence on sources of energy that are distant, uncertain and hostile. To this end, we have installed Texas' first E-85 filling station that is open to the public! It is located on I-35 just south of the BAMC Hospital.
Just what is E-85? 15% of E-85 is derived from fossil fuel. The remaining 85% is made from corn, sorghum or switch grass. Of course the crops are grown in Texas and other parts of the country. That means that 85 cents from every dollar spent remains in Texas or the USA instead of being shipped to sources that are distant, uncertain and hostile!
To use this facility, just check e85fuels.com and it will take you to information that confirms that your vehicle is compatible or not with E-85.
Today, the San Antonio region is at a crossroads in terms of advancing a healthy environment, reducing our dependence on non-renewable fuels, and securing our economic future. We can take the road that leads to healthier lives and a stronger economy, or we can do nothing and risk definite health and economic consequences. The road we choose today determines how clean and healthy our air will be tomorrow.
The Clean Air Act is the comprehensive federal law that regulates pollution from sources across the United States. This law authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and the environment. The NAAQS identify the levels at which harmful pollutants, such as ground-level ozone, adversely affect human health.
All areas of the country including the San Antonio region are required to meet the standards set by the federal government. Over the past several years we have had trouble meeting those standards take actions to preserve our air quality. San Antonio has an air pollution problem: ground-level ozone. Ozone in the air we breathe is a pollutant that causes respiratory problems, harms the environment, and causes property damage.
The Alamo Area Council of Governments houses Commute Solutions, which provides carpool-matching services, and Clean Cities, which promotes the use of alternative fuels and hybrid-electric vehicles. Numerous municipalities, governmental entities, and industries partake in initiatives that help improve our air quality. Many local governmental fleets participate in the Clean Cities program use propane to power their fleet vehicles. The County's E-85 station is up and running. Carpooling and vanpooling programs are in place in several private industries in the area.
The San Antonio metropolitan area has until the end of 2007 to improve its air quality. The EPA will use San Antonio's monitored ozone levels in 2005, 2006, and 2007. They will then average those levels and see if San Antonio's air quality has improved. The national standard is 85 parts per billion, and in 2005 San Antonio's average was 86 parts per billion. In order to remain below that standard, the averaged ozone levels in 2006 and 2007 must be lower than 2005's average or the region will be designated nonattainment, which means that we are in violation of federal law.
If we fail to improve our air quality, the state and federal government will come to San Antonio and implement various requirements that will dramatically affect our way of life. Funding for the construction of new roads and highways may be decreased because of our dirty air problems. The economic development of the region will be impacted because prospective companies will not want to locate to San Antonio because of restrictions and increased costs that would be required of them for building in a city with poor air quality. That means fewer new jobs or less economic growth. The fact that there is no such restriction presently in place for San Antonio at present. Private citizens would feel the affects of a nonattainment designation. The requirement of vehicle emission testing may be a possibility. This is currently being done in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, and El Paso.