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08 October 2009

It's a Bad Time to Live in Texas

So let's start at the beginning. Yesterday I came across this article about how the 1972 Clean Water Act is grossly ignored by almost all state agencies meant to enforce the act.
"In the last five years alone, chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have violated water pollution laws more than half a million times. The violations range from failing to report emissions to dumping toxins at concentrations regulators say might contribute to cancer, birth defects and other illnesses."

"The Times’s research also shows that last year, 40 percent of the nation’s community water systems violated the Safe Drinking Water Act at least once, according to an analysis of E.P.A. data."

"Finally, the Times’s research shows that fewer than 3 percent of Clean Water Act violations resulted in fines or other significant punishments by state officials. And the E.P.A. has often declined to prosecute polluters or force states to strengthen their enforcement by threatening to withhold federal money or take away powers the agency has delegated to state officials."
This article then led to another NY Times article along the same lines, this time about how Texas Governor Rick Perry used his State of the State speech back in January to attack the EPA, stating:
Unfortunately, our strength in petrochemical production and refining makes us a big target on the radar of an increasingly activist E.P.A., whose one-size-fits-all approaches could severely harm our energy sector; an agency whose potential to harm our state with punitive actions will only increase in the months and years to come.
As I often do, reading this made me rather irate and helpless at the same time. Living in Texas is hard when you're a liberal and care about the environment, when you know there is no chance of making an overall difference since the government of your state believes more in being against an 'activist EPA' than really working to solve any issues. Further, I cannot understand really where the EPA is becoming increasingly activist if the first article shows 97% of all violations have nothing come of them? Looking at the interactive map, there are several locations nearby with at least 1 violation in the last year, and I live in a rather affluent suburb. It's actually kind of astonishing how many concrete manufacturers there are nearby.

Then this morning, the next crushing blow about living in Dallas came in the form of a web study that rates the intelligence of the largest 55 cities and metroplexes. The study rates their findings on how much non-fiction book sales, higher education degrees, institutions of higher learning and political activism. While the study is of course informal, it is really rather depressing to have your city labeled number 48. Based on their seemingly high scale of IQ where the #1 spot ranked with an IQ of 170, DFW received only a 64. We do not read, we do not vote, we have very few colleges and universities, and we definitely do not make it into the top 20 cities for Bachelor and Masters degrees.

It's depressing. I could definitely deal with a change of scenery to Denver #5, Seattle #7 or Portland #9