Several weeks ago, I attended an ozone workshop sponsored by the toxicology division at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and facilitated by Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA). Ozone, a component of smog, is a harmful air pollutant that is associated with adverse health effects including asthma attacks, decreased lung function, and premature death.
EPA has proposed new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) within the range of 65-70 parts per billion (ppb), and, according to TCEQ, this workshop was "designed to provide an independent evaluation and synthesis of key considerations for approaching the difficult ozone NAAQS decision."
Given the importance of this pollutant to public health, it is unfortunate a state environmental agency – that has plenty of other higher priority issues – chose to spend taxpayer money on a workshop designed to mislead the public and present a one-sided perspective on the issue.
What were the problems with TCEQ’s workshop? Read More
Texas is home to some of the highest polluting power plants in the country.
Recently, the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office announced plans to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan, which would place limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants for the first time in the country. A few days afterward, Texas Governor and former State Attorney General Greg Abbott pledged support for Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell's Just Say No campaign, an effort to encourage states not to comply with the upcoming federal regulations.
Apparently Texas has a short memory. Just a couple of years ago, Texas lost a series of challenges to EPA regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting. Texas refused to issue GHG permits to new and modified large industrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in the establishment of a dual permitting system. This meant industrial facilities, like power plants and refineries, needed to apply to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for some air permits and separately to EPA for the portion of their permit addressing greenhouse gases.
Ultimately, however, Texas industry urged the state to issue the GHG portion of air quality permits as well. And in an about face, after spending millions of taxpayer dollars fighting common sense regulations, Texas regained the ability to issue the state’s GHG permits. Read More
Congratulations to the CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas Clean Air Partners Program! They received the 2015 Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Excellence Award in the Community Action category.
The Clean Air Excellence Awards Program recognizes and honors outstanding innovative efforts to help make progress in achieving cleaner air. Awards are given to programs that directly or indirectly reduce pollutant emissions, demonstrate innovation, offer sustainable outcomes, and provide a model for others to follow. Read More
The American Lung Association (ALA) recently released the 2015 State of the Air report. Unfortunately, they found the quality of air remains mixed throughout Texas and the United States.
Created using data reported as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) national monitoring network, the report analyzes particle and ozone pollution, two of the most ubiquitous pollutants in the country. Though numerous cities across the country saw an improvement in air quality, conditions in other cities declined. Read More
This coming Wednesday will be the 45th annual Earth Day, and its growth over the years has been nothing short of remarkable. It started as a 20 million person demonstration across America in 1970. And it is now the largest civic event in the world, with more than one billion participants in 192 countries.
In Texas, there will be a multitude of Earth Day events celebrating our green planet. Since Earth Day lands on a Wednesday, some events will happen before Earth Day and others will occur the following weekend. Here are a few events happening in central Texas:
Austin: The Capital of Texas is once again putting on its annual Austin Earth Day Festival, Saturday, April 18th from noon to 6pm at the Historic Browning Hanger. This event is free to the public and complete with drumming activities, an opportunity to hear major environmental figures speak, a Kid Zone, a chance to recycle your E-waste, and so much more. Austin Earth Day Festival is also a committed zero waste event.
There is another family friendly, Earth Day Fair in Austin at the Wildflower Church on Sunday afternoon, April 19. There will be tables by organizations like Save Our Springs, Faith Community Garden, Tecolote Farm, and more with information on a wide range of green topics. Activities for children and free food will be available. Read More
Source: flickr/Durant Weston
Spring time is once again punctuated by the start of the ozone season. March 1st began the ozone season for Houston and Dallas, while April 1st marks the season for San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi. The dangers of ozone remind us to take precaution during this time of year and call attention to the importance of clean air.
What is the harm?
Ozone is created when a combination of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react to heat and sunlight. And the combination of rising Texas temperatures, sunlight, vehicles, industrial activity, and low winds create the ideal situation for unhealthy concentrations of ground-level ozone.
Ground-level ozone—better known as smog—contributes to a variety of adverse health outcomes, including respiratory issues, increased risk for asthmatic attacks, long term lung damage, cardiovascular effects, and premature mortalities. The most susceptible groups are young children and elderly adults. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) final 2014 health assessment, Health Risk and Exposure Assessment for Ozone, confirmed the causal relationship of ozone to harmful respiratory health. Read More