Today Texas environmentalists, legislators, and medical practitioners wait with bated breath for an announcement from the EPA about a new air quality standard for ozone pollution. The proposed rule would strengthen the Bush administration’s ozone standard, which did not meet scientific scrutiny or standards to protect public health. Now that scientists have demonstrated that ozone is harmful at lower quantities than previously thought, the EPA will announce a revision to their ozone rule so that the threshold of ozone concentration where cities enter “non-attainment,” or violating the rule, is lower.
Three major metropolitan areas in Texas are already in non-attainment of the less-protective standard: Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston/Galveston, and Beaumont/Port Arthur. As a result of the new rule and lower threshold, several other areas could now be in risk of non-attainment: Austin, Tyler/Longview, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Waco. Reaching non-attainment status has some serious consequences for cities, such as losing federal highway funds.
In August of this year the new rule will go into effect, after which time the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to the EPA. The SIP plan will more or less be a road-map to stay within the new standards and drastically reduce ozone pollution. The SIP is really where the good news comes into play, because to stay in line with higher standards Texas will need new pollution controls, clean energy alternatives and transportation choices.
Oh, Santa, you shouldn’t have! This is a much better gift than the coal we got in our stocking in the form of the Oak Grove Coal plant going on-line just days before the new year!
But there’s also a chance that this new ozone standard could ALSO give us a new opportunity to stop the coal rush. Pollution from coal plants is one of the largest single sources of ozone, so a really awesome super-smart SIP plan could potentially give us the chance to review existing clunkers and gum up the works for new plants. Oh I hope I hope I hope!
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.