Houston’s ozone levels receive a lot of attention, but the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) also monitors and assesses the risks of dozens of other air pollutants, some of which are considered toxic.
Almost every year, Texas experiences hazy skies for a few days or weeks in the Spring and Summer. The sky can look hazy and your favorite landmarks can be harder to see. Let’s talk about that haze, where it comes from, and the potential impacts to Houston’s air quality.
Houston can breathe easy. Despite strong population and economic growth in our region, our air quality continues to improve.
The Short Answer: No. Rice University professor Daniel Cohan recently published an article in the Houston Chronicle discussing the feasibility of Houston and Dallas being able to achieve EPA’s new ozone standard, now set at 70 parts per billion. While we are not affiliated with Dr. Cohan’s research, we thought it would be of interest to our readers. http://www.chron.com/local/gray-matters/article/Is-it-even-possible-for-Houston-and-Dallas-to-hit-6660561.php
The 36th Congressional District of Texas, which I am proud to represent, has more petrochemical facilities than any other district in the country. Thus, our area would be significantly impacted by the EPA’s new proposed ozone regulations.
Many of us who grew up in Houston in the ’70s remember what it was like to try to see the skyline on smog-filled days – we couldn’t. Cities like Houston, Los Angeles and even New York have at one time or another been draped in a blanket of man-made haze. Under the Clean Air Act of 1970, these cities and countless counties across America were given new requirements to cut down on this smog – also known as ground-level ozone – through new emissions limits.
On October 1st, the Environmental Protection Agency is widely expected to finalize its regulation to revise the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. First released late last year, EPA’s proposal is an assault on American job creators and reflects a continuation of the burdensome and costly regulatory actions coming out of the Obama Administration, which fails to consider the impact these actions have on our economy.
We are concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is overlooking important consequences that will result if its proposal to significantly reduce National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground level ozone is finalized. As healthcare professionals we rely upon the most accurate health data. From this vantage, we believe that the proposal’s harm outweighs its claimed benefits and are concerned that it could ultimately undermine our constituents’ health. In light of the significant ongoing improvements to air quality, progress that will continue even without new regulations, we encourage EPA to maintain the existing NAAQS for ground level ozone.
At the end of July, I participated in a U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Power Subcommittee roundtable discussion where I shared with Congress the impacts of EPA ‘s proposed ozone rule on my city, Deer Park, Texas. I especially noted the potential effects on our region’s petrochemical industry and local jobs. While researching my key points, two conclusions became very clear.
The State of Texas alone has spent more than one billion dollars since 2001 striving to achieve the 1997 0.08 parts per million (ppm) ozone standard. As a result, the Houston area has seen ozone levels reduced by 29% during the last 15 years, while the population has increased by 34%.