by Brandt Mannchen
AIR PUBLIC HEALTH FIGHTER PASSES AWAY
Jane Elioseff, a long-time clean air activist, passed away on June 29, 2012. Jane was very active with the
Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention (GHASP), now called Air Alliance of Houston, and mothered the
group for many years. Jane received a Special Service Award from the Sierra Club for her clean air efforts in 2002.
In the mid-1990’s Jane spearheaded the effort to have the air pollution forecast publicly broadcast on print media, radio, and television. She helped round-up a coalition of health and environmental groups and took on Darth Vader – the Greater Houston Partnership (Houston Chamber of Commerce) and won. When the dust had settled the Partnership, City of Houston, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality all agreed that getting the air pollution forecast out to the public would help protect public health. In other words, they caved!
I remember Jane particularly when we would meet at her house to plot and laugh at the odds we all faced in advocating for clean air and public health. In those days the watch words from the establishment were “Be Quiet” because it was ingrained in the public sphere not to talk about Houston’s problems. The “Powers that be” ignored our air pollution problem and expected everyone else to do the same. But Jane would not shut-up and helped bust that door open. Now even the Partnership agrees that Houston needs clean air. What a change and what a woman!
This particular fight was personal for Jane because she had a breathing problem. She knew what it was like on “bad air days” because she had to gasp for the breath of life. But Jane never let that get in the way of fighting the good fight. Somewhere, up above, Jane in jabbing the “Powers that be” with her cane and saying “We can do better”. She did and we must.