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 Downwinders At Risk - Press Room: Alert- Dallas City Council Vote on Green Cement Policy May 16, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Alert- Dallas City Council Vote on Green Cement Policy May 16, 2007

Dear Downwinders and Friends -

In the upcoming week, ending next Wednesday, May 16th, at 9 am in the Council Chambers at Dallas City Hall, you have a chance to make a real difference for cleaner air in North Texas.

At stake is the nation's first "green cement" procurement policy. The Dallas City Council will be receiving a briefing, and then voting on a comprehensive clean air plan for Dallas. As part of that plan, staff will be giving the Council options as to how to purchase cement for city projects. We want the council to choose the option of buying cement ONLY FROM THE CLEANER "DRY PROCESS" CEMENT KILNS RATHER THAN THE OBSOLETE, DIRTIER "WET KILNS."

For the very first time, the city will be able to vote with its pocketbook to spend money on cement from cleaner plants and steer it away from the most polluting ones. Such a policy gives a financial incentive to the operators of the old wet kilns to clean up their act. A fact sheet on the policy is at the bottom of this e-mail. How do we know that it's a valuable step forward? By noting what the cement plants are doing to undermine it.

We've learned that the cement plants have hired a local Public Relations firm headed up by Rob Allyn to try and prevent the Council from taking this historic step for cleaner air in North Texas. According to an April 6, 2000, article in the Dallas Observer, Rob Allyn was a key player in the George W. Bush campaign to discredit his rival for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination Senator John McCain. Millionaire Bush supporter Sam Wyly funded Republicans for Clean Air to attack McCain in key states during the 2000 primary campaign. Rob Allyn was paid $46,000 to help create the ads.

We need your help to overcome the high dollar lobbyists and PR professionals the cement industry is using to try to defeat the Green Cement Policy, and we need it now. Here's how you can help:

1) If you live in Dallas, or know someone who does, please call or e-mail your Dallas City Council representative immediately and ask them for a commitment to vote for the green cement policy on Wednesday. "Buy city cement from cleaner dry kilns only, ban the use of dirty wet kiln cement in city projects." That's the message. Here are the phone numbers and e-mails for each Dallas City Council member:

Dist. 1 - Dr. Elba Garcia/elba.garcia@dallascityhall.com/(214) 670-4052
Dist. 2 - Pauline Medrano/Pauline.Medrano@dallascityhall.com/(214) 670-4048
Dist. 3 - Ed Oakley/edward.oakley@dallascityhall.com/(214) 670-0776
Dist. 4 - Dr. Maxine Thornton-Reese/m.thornton-reese@dallascityhall.com/(214) 670-0781
Dist. 5 - Donald W. Hill/donald.hill@dallascityhall.com/(214) 670-0777
Dist. 6 - Steve Salazar/steven.salazar@dallascityhall.com/214) 670-4199
Dist. 7 - Leo V. Chaney, Jr/leo.chaney@dallascityhall.com/(214) 670-4689
Dist. 8 - James L. Fantroy/james.fantroy@dallascityhall.com/214) 670-4066
Dist. 9 - Gary Griffith/gary.griffith@mail.ci.dallas.tx.us/(214) 670-4069
Dist. 10 - Bill Blaydes/bill.blaydes@dallascityhall.com/214) 670-4068
Dist. 11 - Linda Koop/linda.koop@dallascityhall.com/(214) 670-7817
Dist. 12 - Ron Natinsky/Ron.Natinsky@dallascityhall.com/(214) 670-4067
Dist. 13 - Mitchell Rasansky/mitchell.rasansky@dallascityhall.com/214) 670-3816
Dist. 14 - Angela Hunt/Angela.Hunt@dallascityhall.com/214) 670-5415
Mayor - Laura Miller/Lmiller@mail.ci.dallas.tx.us/(214) 670-4054

2) Please be there in person at the Council Chambers at 9 am next Wednesday morning to speak out for the adoption of the green cement policy. Each speaker gets three minutes to make their case. We need you to come down to City Hall and let the Council know you care about this issue. Your presence will make a huge difference in the tone set for the meeting. Likewise, your absence sends a message that citizens don't care about the cement plants or cleaner air. If you can't come send a friend or family member who can speak on your behalf. It's people power versus special interests. Sign up to speak at Wednesday's Council meeting by calling the City Secretary's office at 214-670-3738, and telling them you want to speak on the clean air plan agenda item.

Please call and please show up. If you are NOT a Dallas resident, you can still speak to this issue and why you think a green cement policy is important for your own health and the region's public health. Don't think you can't have an impact just because you don't live in the Dallas city limits.

Thank you for supporting cleaner air and cleaner cement plants.
Jim Schermbeck
Staff Organizer
Downwinders At Risk


Fact Sheet On the Proposed Dallas “Green Cement” Procurement Policy

1. The proposed recommended policy by staff lets Dallas “vote with its pocketbook” for cement produced from newer, less polluting “dry process” cement plants in Midlothian, rather than obsolete, dirtier “wet process” ones.

2. The policy rewards those cement plants that are doing the best job of reducing smog and toxic air pollution, while giving the dirtiest cement plants an incentive to modernize and clean-up.

3. The three Midlothian cement plants produce half of all the industrial air pollution in the nine-county DFW ozone non-attainment area, including half of all the industrial nitrogen oxide - the pollutant responsible for the region’s smog problem. They have up to three times the impact on local ozone levels as all 17 proposed TXU coal plants combined.

4. The Midlothian wet process cement plants date from 1960 through 1975, use a process abandoned by the industry over 20 years ago, operate with no scrubbers or other modern pollution controls, and are the dirtiest smokestacks in DFW.

5. The proposed “green cement” policy extends the same environmental procurement preferences as the City of Dallas already applies to automobile fleet purchases, recycled paper, and other commodities used by city government.

6. The proposed policy institutionalizes current practices. Dallas already buys its cement from Holcim Cement in Midlothian, which operates only newer dry plants and was the first Midlothian cement plant to use advanced pollution controls for smog.

7. There will be no cost increases in purchasing cement to Dallas as a result of adopting this policy.

8. There will be no shortage of cleaner dry plant cement. Dry process plants now produce 80% of the area’s cement.

9. Green Cement procurement has been endorsed by the North Texas Clean Air Steering Committee as part of its comprehensive set of proposals to help DFW reduce its ozone pollution. Representatives from the City of Dallas, Dallas County and the Dallas Chamber of Commerce voted for the policy.

10. Dallas’ Green Cement procurement policy will establish an important template for the rest of North Texas municipalities, and other large cement purchasers to adopt. Other DFW area cities have expressed interest in following Dallas’ example. The real power of the policy is in the ability to create a “critical mass” in the marketplace that will incorporate air quality into the bottom line of DFW cement plants for the first time in history. Dallas can begin a process that will have an important, permanent impact on regional air quality.