houston’s last ghasp

I remember two things about my first few months living in Houston back in 2006. Firstly, my bike being snatched (who knew an uprooted street signpost made such a fantastic gorilla-lock jimmy?); Secondly, the brown rain evidenced by dirty streaks left drying on my car after a shower.

Granted, that unwelcome mudpack may have been due to volcanic Mexican ash or West Texas grassfires; I didn’t run rigorous research at the time. But it felt very Houston. Over next year spots began to appear where paint was stripped off the roof in perfect raindrop splatter patterns — reminding me of an old DuPont plant in Mississippi and its free employee car detailing.

Foul air wasn’t my — or anyone else’s — paranoid imagination. As cities like San Antonio and Austin are now facing possible federal sanctions in 2009 for racking up bad air quality points this week, Houston has been judged so severe a case that the EPA agreed with Gov Perry to delay cleaner-air deadlines until 2019.

The move jettison’s Energy City’s ranking from “moderate” to “severe” listing – skipping over a more middling “serious” classification that would have carried a 2013 compliance deadline.

Matthew Tejada, executive director of the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention, said the EPA’s decision came as no surprise, but reflected a broken process.

“What are we doing here?” he said. “We’ve just done a bureaucratic dance, and we’re not any closer to clean air.” …

A recent state analysis showed that 18 of the region’s 22 air-pollution monitors would achieve the standard by 2010, but two — in Bayland Park and Deer Park — would need until 2018 or later to get there.

What are we doing, indeed. A perfect week to send a crazy cash, love offerings, and general niceties to GHASP, still fighting the good fight from a temporary bunker on loan from the American Lung Association. Ike dealt the Texas coast a non-discriminatory blow, doing serious damage to the GHASP offices.

And how can I resist chiding Palin on her unwillingness/inability to discuss the causes of climate change. This “maverick” governor that reads “all” media apparently missed this minor item in the LA Times reporting greenhouse gas emissions have rocketed beyond 1990 levels — even as the earth and ocean have begun to absorb less and less of the weather-rattling gas. I say she must have missed it, for otherwise how could it not be at the top of her to-do list.

Kudos to Biden for patiently explaining that if you don’t know the cause, you can’t craft a solution, you can just build bunkers. (Wait, that’s paraphrase with harman enhancements.)

Despite my disgust with Obama and Biden’s centering on energy, specifically for talking up “clean” coal and nukes as the earth continues to gag on greenhouse, there are indisputable differences between the tickets when it comes to the far-more-serious-than-the-bailout issue of climate chaos.

Here’s Nature’s interpretation.

[Smog monster art is by Davey Wong. Buy it. Send it to me. Otherwise, I’ll be forced to start posting inappropriate images of Sarah Palin.]

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