Following up on the earlier report about the air quality situation in Houston, City Council Member Carol Alvarado, a native of the most-affected area, writes an op-ed in the Chron that gives a call to action.
The state Legislature meets again in 2007. It is then that we must devise a regional approach to this problem, encompassing both market-based solutions and ironclad clean air standards backed up by firm regulatory powers.
Furthermore, as the summer wears on, candidates for elected office in Texas will be visiting Houston asking for your vote in November. It is incumbent upon every Houstonian to insist that each candidate for office this fall also commit to taking action on this problem to whatever degree the office they seek permits. Whether you live in the East End or Clear Lake, Kingwood or Meyerland, you should ask them what they are going to do about this issue if they are elected. If they say, "I'm going to study it some more," they don't deserve your support.
The facts are indisputable and more than sufficient to demand a firm commitment to action. Houston's air is full of deadly toxins. The health effects are enormous and the social costs are clear. The financial burden is also significant, and each and every one of us is required to foot the bill.
Even if you live in a part of town that is the least affected by these toxins, understand that the most affected areas are also home to people least likely to be able to afford health insurance. Therefore, they don't go to the doctor when they sense health problems because they simply can't. When the problem becomes chronic and severe, they go to the emergency room, and the doctor bill is sent to the taxpayer.
In addition, dirty air and the attendant publicity about it make our region less attractive to new investment. The fact is, this limits our economic potential.