Yesterday here at the Dallas Morning News, we met with a group of local folks that included Margaret Keliher, the Dallas County Judge (which means she’s the top county executive in the Texas system). Keliher is a Republican, and she’s also taken the lead in fighting for cleaner air in north Texas. Dallas has filthy air, in part because of cement plants just south of the city, and we’re under federal government sanction to clean it up. In north Texas, the environment is not really a liberal vs. conservative issue, but a civic issue. I asked Judge Keliher yesterday why she, as a conservative Republican, has gotten active to fight industry for cleaner air. Now, Judge Keliher is very far from the kind of goo-goo Republican you find in–how to put this?–wetter climes. She replied that for one thing, it’s about health, and health-care costs. For another, it’s about creating a good business climate–companies don’t want to move to a region that’s got bad air and the health problems that go with it. And then there’s the family values thing–Judge Keliher said that she’s tired of seeing little children around here having to run to the sidelines during soccer games to use their inhalers. All of these are ways to think about the environment that resonate with conservative Republican voters. If I were sitting at the RNC in Washington right now, thinking about this fall’s election, I’d spend a half hour on the phone with Judge Keliher and talk about this stuff. It’s foolish to let the Democrats have this issue all to themselves–and by the way, enlightened environmentalists are starting to realize how foolish they’ve been to put all their hopes on the Democratic Party, and are now reaching out to conservatives. All to the good, say I.