EPA's revised ozone standard is an improvement, but it falls short of adequately protecting public health.
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a modest but important step forward in improving air quality by revising the standard for ground-level ozone or smog. EPA today finalized a standard of 70 parts per billion (ppb) — at the least protective end of the range recommended by the EPA’s independent scientific advisors and the nation’s leading health and medical societies.
Texans, and particularly those most vulnerable to air pollution such as children and the elderly, face challenges associated with harmful air quality and now is the time to come together as a state and implement solutions that will reduce this pollution. The Houston region has made strides in reducing emissions while continuing to grow and demonstrated that we have effective tools to improve air quality across Texas.
As readers of this blog will know, Texas has been called home by a number of leaders in technological innovation, from Dell to Frito Lay.
This post is from our colleague Christina Wolfe, one of our experts in air quality and freight efficiency, who notes that innovative companies recognize the value of smart regulations that help to advance technologies. We wanted to share this post with Texas Clean Air Matters because of its relevance to Texas, both as a hotspot for innovation and as a beneficiary to the climate and pollution benefits a strong Phase 2 rule will provide.
— The EDF Texas Clean Air Matters Team
The deadline to provide public comment on new greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for large highway trucks and buses—jointly proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—is quickly approaching. Overall, the proposed new fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards have been heralded by shippers and others. And a majority of Americans — 71 percent — favor requiring truck manufacturers to increase the fuel efficiency of large trucks because it would reduce fuel costs, with much of the savings passed on to consumers. Read More
New EPA Refinery Standards Will Provide Clean Air Benefits for Communities
This guest post is an abridged version of an Air Alliance Houston blog:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new rule that will protect communities near oil refineries. The rule will put in place new controls that will reduce toxic air pollution from refineries and, for the first time ever, require air monitoring at refinery fencelines. It’s a step in the right direction for people living near refineries. For too long, poor and minority communities have suffered from toxic air pollution that damages their health and shortens their lives.
The rule is the result of a lawsuit filed in 2012 by Air Alliance Houston and others, including Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Community In-Power and Development Association, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, California Communities Against Toxics, Del Amo Action Committee, and Coalition For A Safe Environment. These groups were represented by Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project. Together, these groups have been working for years to ensure that EPA would set stronger standards to protect public health. Read More
A new EDF guide shows ways ports and terminals can save energy and clean up the air.
The freight transportation industry is growing – and so is interest in adopting environmentally-friendly green freight approaches.
That’s why EDF is proud to release its new Clean Air Guide for Ports & Terminals: Technologies and Strategies to Reduce Emissions and Save Energy. The guide highlights institutional frameworks, technology upgrades, and operational improvements that have been effective in reducing energy use and harmful emissions from the freight industry. Landlord ports, operating ports, and marine terminal operators will all find models of initiatives they can implement at their own facilities. Community and advocacy groups also can identify best practices in the industry and work with their port partners to collaboratively implement some of these strategies at a nearby terminal. Read More
Ozone season in Houston runs from March 1 to November 30 each year, meaning we’re nearing the tail end of the season – a good time to take a look at how the region has fared.
To date this year, the Houston region has had 25 days where the ozone concentration in at least one monitor (includes regulatory and non-regulatory monitors) has exceeded the current health-based standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb). This includes a string of five consecutive unhealthy air days in late August. The 75 ppb level is the highest measurement at which EPA currently considers the air to be safe and healthy for all individuals. Assuming no additional exceedances, Houston’s 3-year design value, which is an average of air quality measurements and how the region is measured against the standard, is on track to be 80 ppb for the period of 2013-2015.
Why does this matter? Exposure to ozone is associated with health concerns and most commonly affects the lungs and the respiratory system. Airways can become inflamed and can result in coughing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath, along with many other symptoms. You can reduce your exposure to dangerous concentrations of ozone by limiting your time outdoors during high ozone days and understanding how ozone can affect your health. Read More
My daughter on a hike in the Texas Hill Country.
I am a mom. It’s not the only descriptor I use for myself, but it’s up there at the top. My daughter is three years old. She loves to play outside and hug trees and chase birds and go fishing with her daddy.
I am also a clean energy and climate advocate. My weekdays consist of trying to convince Texas policymakers to take action on climate change, and I sometimes think negotiating with statewide officials is harder than negotiating with a “threenager.”
As parents, our daily lives consist of a million things we have to do to keep the kids fed, dressed, and out of harm’s way. Can’t someone else worry about climate change? The problem with that perspective is, although moms and dads may differ politically, our desire to see our kids grow up happy and healthy is universal. But if enough of us make small changes in our lives and raise our voices on climate and clean energy issues, those actions can add up to a big solution.
Climate change and life as we know it
When a problem seems overwhelming, as climate change often does, it’s helpful to break it down into relatable pieces. Let’s think about how climate change affects our everyday activities with our children. Read More