Selected category: Air Pollution

Smoggier Skies in Texas? No Thanks, Washington!

Before leaving for summer recess, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill, H.R. 806, that would sideline public health protections by changing the Clean Air Act fundamentally and delay important air quality protections. This so-called by changing the required review by EPA of standards from the current 5-year interval to 10 years.

In Texas, several of our metro areas already fail the health-based standards for ozone, including the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth regions. Now, some legislators in Washington, D.C., have put forward legislation that would put even more Texans at risk, since the new 2015 health-based ozone standard would likely have identified the San Antonio region, as well as Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, as areas requiring new clean air actions be taken. The 2015 ozone air quality standard was put forward after a lengthy scientific evaluation process that involved many in the public health, medical, and scientific communities. Delaying these standards to 2025 means delaying commonsense measures that safeguard the air we breathe.

It’s no surprise that this bill was opposed by more than a dozen organizations in the medical and public health community, including the National Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association and the American Thoracic Society. Health effects from ground-level ozone can exacerbate respiratory conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. For some in Texas, like the 1.4 million adult and 617,000 children statewide affected by asthma, air quality standards that protect against harmful levels of ground-level ozone can protect against life-threatening asthma attacks.

Texas only stands to lose when lawmakers in Washington weaken and delay important health protections. The “Smoggy Skies” bill has passed the House of Representatives, but hopefully, its fate in the Senate will be dead on arrival.

No thank you, Washington, Texans prefer clean air to breathe.

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Dallas Fort-Worth, Environmental Protection Agency, Houston, Legislation, Ozone, San Antonio| Comments are closed

Houston students share stories about the air they breathe

In Bianca Ibarra’s neighborhood on Houston’s eastside, the smokestacks are simply a given, part of the landscape.

“It surrounds us,” she said. “When you leave for the first time as a kid, it’s a shock. You see that other places do not have this. We are living in one of the most polluted cities in the country.”

To help others understand that this is not normal or healthy, Ibarra, 18, produced “Houston, At What Cost?” The three-minute video details how air pollution damages hearts and lungs and offers ways for young people to help solve the problem.

Her work won the first video contest sponsored by Environmental Defense Fund for students from high schools near the heavily industrialized Houston Ship Channel.

Elena Craft, senior health scientist at EDF, said the contest provided students with a platform to talk about air pollution, a pressing concern in the eight-county Houston region, which has yet to meet federal standards for ozone, or smog. Read More »

Also posted in Houston, Ozone, Particulate Matter| Comments are closed

Help Texas Make Best Use of Volkswagen Settlement Funds

The Texas Clean Air Working Group (TCAWG) and the city of Austin will hold a workshop on Monday (June 26th) to discuss how Texas can use funding from the Volkswagen settlement to reduce smog-forming pollution and increase the use of zero-emission, all-electric vehicles. More information and registration instructions available here.

In July 2016, Volkswagen agreed to pay $14.7 billion in penalties to resolve a decade-long case stemming from a scheme to cheat on diesel emissions tests. The automaker had imported almost 600,000 vehicles that emitted illegal levels of harmful pollutants.

The agreement, coupled with a May 2017 settlement, will provide almost $5 billion for projects that promote cleaner air and the development of zero-emissions vehicles and infrastructure.

As its portion of the agreements, Texas is eligible to receive $209 million for projects that reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxides over the next decade. The state also is eligible to receive a share of $1.2 billion that was set aside for zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure.

To access these funds, Texas must submit a plan that describes how it would spend the money and reduce emissions. The state also must show how it would engage the public when choosing projects.

Accordingly, TCAWG and the city of Austin will hold a workshop for all interested stakeholders. The session will provide participants with the opportunity to learn more about available and emerging technologies and to discuss the benefits of several potential projects.

With careful and strategic planning, Texas has the opportunity to maximize these dollars to transform transportation in the state while creating jobs and reducing pollution.

The workshop will be June 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez, in conjunction with the Smart Cities Connect Conference.

Admission is free, but registration is required. The full agenda and registration instructions are available here.

Also posted in Electric Vehicles| Read 1 Response

Healthier, safer summers – brought to you by EPA

By: Mandy Warner, Senior Manager, Climate and Air Policy

This weekend is Memorial Day – the unofficial start to summer. That means kids across the country – and adults too – are counting down the days until summer vacation.

Whether your plans include going to a beach, visiting a national park, or just letting your kids play outside in the sprinklers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plays an important role in making your summer healthier and safer – in ways you might not realize.

Here are four examples of how EPA improves summers for all Americans:

1. Reducing deadly smog

Smog comes from pollution emitted from cars, power plants, and other sources. It can lead to asthma attacks, heart attacks and even deaths.

The summer smog season has already started in most parts of the country. A number of “code orange” days – the terms for days when the air may be too dangerous for some people, like children with asthma and seniors with heart conditions, to be outdoors – have already been issued. Read More »

Also posted in Environmental Protection Agency| Comments are closed

Texas lawmakers, take note: The business case for clean air

Texas lawmakers are nearing the end of another legislative session. Before they leave Austin, though, there are two things that we would like them to do to improve air quality:

  1. They should extend the successful Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, or TERP, beyond 2019.
  2. They should fully fund the program.

This matters because the 16-year-old program works.

Last week, the Houston Chronicle published an op-ed on the importance of this program, co-authored by EDF’s Dr. Elena Craft and Nolan Richardson, president of Richardson Companies, Port Houston’s largest tenant.

Here is the bottom line – Clean air is good for business.

EDF supports this program because it has been an excellent investment for Texas.

We also remind lawmakers that there is work to do until every Texan has access to clean air. Cities and counties across the state continue to receive alerts for unhealthy air. Today is another bad ozone day for Dallas-Fort Worth and the eight-county Houston region.

We urge lawmakers to finish the job by extending TERP and using every cent collected for the program on its intended purpose.

Also posted in Dallas Fort-Worth, Houston, Legislation, Ozone| Comments are closed

EDF Tracks Air Quality in Areas Removed from the Texas Air Pollutant Watch List

EDF’s Maia Draper co-wrote this post

We’ve written before about the Air Pollutant Watch List, a Texas program for addressing harmful air pollutants that pose a particularly high risk to public health.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) adds areas to the Air Pollution Watch List where monitoring data show persistently high concentrations of air toxics above the state’s health-based guidelines for these substances.

Listing an area on the Air Pollution Watch List enables TCEQ to dedicate additional time and resources to reducing air toxic emissions in these areas. A listing can serve as an important tool for reducing dangerous air pollution and protecting public health.

However, since 2007, TCEQ has removed 14 monitored pollutants in 10 areas from the Air Pollution Watch List. TCEQ says that average concentration levels of air toxics in these areas no longer exceed state guidelines, and therefore that additional scrutiny and resources to encourage air quality improvements are no longer necessary. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Car Standards, Texas Permitting| Read 1 Response
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