Most Popular Stories
Discover News By District
Group touts benefits for new EPA ozone attainment standards
Thursday, January 7, 2010 by Jacob Cottingham
A coalition of environmental and medical groups as well as state representatives say a new federal Environmental Protection Agency standard for ozone air quality is a positive step for cleaning up the air in
The EPA recently lowered the nationwide ozone standard from 75 to 70 parts per million.
Eva Hernandez of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign used the occasion to argue against the plethora of coal power plants in
She targeted large industrial emitters such as cement kilns, refineries, coal plants and smaller emitters such as vehicles and traffic, saying required changes in air quality “will help
Dr. Don Williams, board member of Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility, said he wanted to recognize the importance of the new standard saying that studies had shown pollution “plays a major role in the development of emphysema, bronchitis, strokes, lung cancer and heart disease.”
He said the quality of the air “is virtually the only factor we as a society can control,” and noted
Cyrus Reed, conservation director with the Sierra Club said “locally produced emissions are about 80 percent from vehicles. But added that as an industry the largest emitters of nitric oxide are coal plants, which provide the largest “bang for the buck.”
State Rep Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) was present, as was a representative for Austin Sen. Kirk Watson. Rodriguez acknowledged that
“We have worked diligently to improve our air quality and achieve attainment status,” he said. He called the new levels “important for us and the entire state,” because despite these efforts, the area would still fall into non-attainment. He urged a statewide effort in order to reduce emissions, and opined that the upcoming TCEQ sunset review was “a great opportunity” for legislators to bring political will to bear on the agency to comply with federal air quality standards.
Paul Rolke of the environmental group Our Land Our Lives also spoke, and brought up the possibility that the EPA may step into the regulatory role for the state agency. TCEQ’s authority to operate “could be a repercussion” of the new standard.
Ozone, often referred to as smog, forms when hydrocarbons and nitric oxide react with sunlight and heat. There are many associated health hazards to high ozone levels, and falling out of attainment with federal regulations can also impact state planning and finances, especially in regard to transportation projects.
If the EPA designates an area as being in non-attainment, federal highway dollars can be cut and extensive planning and review processes will be added to a variety of projects – ranging from roads to industry relocation.
Join Your Friends and Neighbors
We're a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?