The mission of the CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas is to (1) be a liaison among all stakeholders, (2) coordinate the air quality planning of the private sector, (3) provide a forum for public discussion, (4) educate the public on air quality issues, and (5) manage air quality improvement programs in Central Texas focused on motivating the citizens, businesses and governments of this region to take actions to reduce air pollution to protect public health and the health of our economy.
By the mid-eighties, several entities in the Austin area were initiating programs to improve air quality and prevent Central Texas from being designated as nonattainment of federal air quality standards for ground-level ozone. Focus on the ozone issue was also prompted by the area’s exceedance in the summer of 1985 of the then-applicable ozone standard: 120 parts of ozone per billion (ppb). Although that standard has not been exceeded since 1985, it was reached in four of the following nine years, most recently in 1994.
Recognizing the detrimental health, economic and quality of life impacts of deteriorating air quality, groups such as the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), the City of Austin, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Austin District, the American Lung Association and other area business and community leaders saw the need to coordinate amongst themselves to (1) provide a more effective air quality improvement message; and (2) to launch and finance much needed technical studies.
In 1993, representatives from these organizations joined to form “Clean Air Metro Austin,” the core of what is currently the CLEAN AIR Force Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). Since 1993, membership in the TAC has expanded to include representatives from businesses, local governments, environmental groups, neighborhood associations, and public interest groups, as well as local citizens concerned about air quality. TAC members are experts in the air quality industry and provide valuable technical expertise and insight to the organization’s planning and policy process. Monthly meetings of the TAC provide members with opportunities to stay abreast of technical and policy developments, share ideas and information with colleagues, and advise their respective organizations on air quality issues.
In 1994, Clean Air Metro Austin became the Austin AIR Force and applied for incorporation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. A part-time Executive Director was recruited and a Board of Directors was assembled. The organization was re-named the CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas in early 1996 to reflect the regional nature of air quality issues.
Beginning in 1997, local governments in Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties recognized the need for a strong, cohesive, non-partisan regional effort and provided funding for office operations and a full-time Executive Director. Presently the CLEAN AIR Force consists of an Executive Director and Executive Assistant and is funded by both public and private funds, including local government entities, the Central Texas business community and grants. CLEAN AIR Force members from both the public and private sector have contributed to special project funding, in-kind services, donations of equipment, and contributions of staff time and expertise over the years.
Board members are expected to help support the CAF financially. Board members may meet this obligation by (1) having the government, corporation or nonprofit entity that they represent give a contribution to CAF, (2) giving a personal donation, or (3) raising money from third parties (“give or get”). The annual amount the government members are providing in calendar year 2010 represents the minimum ongoing financial obligation required of each government board member and is based on population. The “give or get” annual obligation of for-profit and nonprofit members is based on their business size: $500 for those with 25 or less employees, $1,000 for those with 26-99 employees, $1,500 for those with 100 – 499 employees, and $2,500 for those with 500+ employees. Board Members are encouraged to give more than these minimum amounts. Board members will be asked to commit to such fundraising obligation in writing at the December Board meeting or prior to their first Board meeting. Failure to “give or get” the financial obligation by April 1st of each year will result in the suspension of a Board member’s voting rights until the financial obligation is met. The remainder of the Board may waive this suspension by a majority vote
To be members, Clean Air Partners (“Partners”), are expected to help support the costs of the Clean Air Partners Program. Clean Air Partners may meet this obligation by (1) paying a membership due or making a donation to any of the CAF fundraising events, or (2) raising money from third parties (“give or get”). The “give or get” annual obligation of for-profit and nonprofit members will be based on their business size: $250 for those with 25 or less local employees, $500 for those with 26-99 local employees, $750 for those with 100 – 499 local employees, and $1,000 for those with 500+ local employees. The annual obligation for government members will come out of their annual Board dues. All Partners are encouraged to give more than these minimum amounts. Partners will be asked to commit to such financial obligation when they agree to be a Partner or in writing by each December Board meeting. Failure to “give or get” the financial obligation by April 1st of each year will result in the suspension of partnership until the financial obligation is met.
Board of Directors
The CLEAN AIR Force Board of Directors represents a broad spectrum of community, business and government organizations. The Board reviews and makes recommendations on air quality policy, public outreach and technical issues. Quarterly meetings open to the public; provide an important forum for the exchange of information, ideas and perspectives. The Board provides an opportunity for varied interests to work together on a common goal and stay abreast of policy and technical developments on air quality. Board members are not compensated for their time. Scheduled meetings are the first Wednesday in March, June, September and December, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at Samsung, 12100 Samsung Blvd. Due to security at Samsung, attendees must RSVP no later than 48 hours prior to the meeting. Meeting dates and times may change to accommodate schedules, see www.cleanairforce.org for updated information.
An 7-member Executive Committee oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization. The members include the CLEAN AIR Force officers—chair, vice-chair and secretary-treasurer. Current officers are Tim Jones (Samsung Austin Semiconductor), Elena Craft (Environmental Defense Fund), and Rick Perkins (Chemical Logic, Inc.).
Office of the Director
In addition to general management and administrative responsibilities, the Director prepares the annual budget for the corporation, develops and implements programs, and in coordination with the Executive Committee, manages the financial and corporate affairs. The Director provides administrative support to the Board of Directors and is responsible for maintaining corporate records. The Director also serves as the primary spokesperson for the organization, interacting with media, elected officials, community groups and other organizations with an interest in air quality.
The Clean Air Partners Program works with local employers to design company-specific emission reduction strategies. There are approximately 100 Partners in the 5-county Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Area (Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties) implementing programs and reporting their reduction results. More information can be found at www.cleanairpartnerstx.org.
The Ozone Alert Program informs and and educates Central Texans of days when the region’s air quality is likely to reach unhealthy levels via a free email notification service, through an information hotline: 512-343-SMOG (7664), via Facebook and Twitter. Advance notification of an Ozone Action Day allows people to plan alternate travel arrangements or to take other voluntary actions to reduce pollution the following day.
The Clean School Bus Program focuses on reducing children’s exposure to harmful pollutants. The program works with local ISDs to retrofit and replace older school buses and implement anti-idling programs. More information can be found at www.cleanschoolbus.net.
The High School Public Service Announcement Air Quality Contest engages local youth in air quality research and education and highlights their work at press events and on top-rated Time Warner cable television stations in Central Texas during Ozone Season.