EPA: They did it, they did it, they did it, yeah!

Just following up on our post yesterday that the EPA was going to announce a new air quality standard limiting ozone pollution: they did it!

The United States Environmental Protection Agency today proposed the strictest health standards to date for smog…The agency is proposing to set the “primary” standard, which protects public health, at a level between 0.060 and 0.070 parts per million (ppm) measured over eight hours.

For those of you who, like me, loathe decimals, that’s the same as 60-70 parts per billion(ppb). The previous standard was 75 ppb, a threshhold that failed to protect human health.  Ground-level ozone, also known as smog, is linked to a number of health problems such as asthma, and is especially dangerous for those with heart, lung or circulatory problems.  Children are especially at risk.

Yesterday I noted that “the proposed rule would strengthen the Bush administration’s ozone standard, which did not meet scientific scrutiny or standards to protect public health.” But that statement doesn’t tell the whole story (because I didn’t know the whole story at the time — you learn something new every day).  The fault with the current standard doesn’t lie with scientists — EPA scientists actually recommended a stricter standard, those recommendations were ignored when the final rule was set. According to the Washington Post,

Under Bush, EPA officials had initially tried to set a lower seasonal limit on ozone to protect wildlife, parks and farmland, as required under the law, but Bush forced the agency to abandon that proposal just before it announced the new standards.

The proposed rule will now undergo a 60-day comment period, after which it will be published in the Federal Register. The EPA will also have three public meetings on the proposed rule, one of which will be in Houston Feb. 4th.

So what does the new rule mean for Texas? I touched on a bit of that briefly yesterday, but for now I’ll defer to my boss (as he spoke to KERA radio):

That means… we are going to have to find new ways to reduce pollution. It may mean shutting down cement kilns and some plants… It may mean changing some of the ways we drive and getting more efficient automobiles, plug-in-hybrids on the road more rapidly.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.