Texas Clean Air Matters

Texas Takes Backseat Controlling Its Massive Methane Problem

3829465133_78b173bff0_bA new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, finds that methane emissions from oil and gas facilities in North Texas’ Barnett Shale are likely as much as 90 percent higher than previous estimates based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency.

This is no small matter. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas rapidly accelerating the rate of climate change. But it’s also emitted with other harmful pollutants, like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that contribute to smog levels, as well as the cancer causing compound benzene. One study estimates that oil and gas production in the Barnett Shale Region in Texas contributes 19,888 tons of VOCs per year while estimates for the Eagle Ford Shale region just south of San Antonio project oil and gas operations could produce up to 1,248 tons per day VOC by 2018. Both the DFW area and San Antonio are struggling with high smog levels.

And based on the findings of the new methane study, we now know that there are instances where the magnitude of oil and gas emissions is even higher than previously thought. That is especially troubling for the more than 6 million people living in the DFW area who are at risk of developing or exacerbating respiratory and other health problems as a result of this unnecessary air pollution. Unnecessary because recent analysis concludes that emissions can be drastically reduced by implementing cost-effective and “off the shelf” pollution reduction technologies and practices – begging the question: why has Texas, the leading oil and gas producing state, not been a leader on reducing this harmful pollution?

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Also posted in Air Pollution, Barnett Shale, Clean Car Standards, Methane, Natural gas, TCEQ / Read 1 Response

Is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality an Honest Broker for San Antonio’s Air Quality?

By Krystal Henagan, Moms Clean Air Force Texas Field Organizer

san_antonio_sign1Facing climbing ozone levels and non-attainment, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) deployed their top officials to host an “air quality” open house in the Alamo City, Texas, Monday. As a mother of an asthmatic son, I was looking forward to hearing the agency’s plans to improve our region’s poor air quality not only for him, but for the thousands of San Antonio children suffering from dirty air.

Those of us expecting a comprehensive overview of how the state agency was planning to work with local and federal agencies to provide regional solutions to clean up our air were deeply disappointed. Rather, the open house was a very bizarre orchestration of an oil and gas industry PR blitz held by TCEQ’s commissioners and toxicologist. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Natural gas, Oil, San Antonio, TCEQ / Read 1 Response

In San Antonio, Cleaner Air May Be on the Horizon

For many years, San Antonio’s air quality has been at a tipping point. With smog levels that just narrowly hovered beneath national limits for ozone pollution, the city is currently in competition for having some of the worst smog levels in Texas.

Ground-level ozone can cause asthma attacks and other illnesses—which means the state of San Antonio’s air quality is putting public health at risk.  That’s about to change thanks to new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards that set stronger limits on ozone levels—pushing smog-challenged cities like San Antonio to take action and clean up the air.   Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Environment, San Antonio / Read 2 Responses

Houston Ozone Season Demonstrates Improvements Still Needed

SignboardAirQualityHouston_wikipediaOzone 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 »

Also posted in Air Pollution / Read 1 Response

Why Should Moms (and Dads) Care about Climate Change?

My daughter on a hike in the Texas Hill Country.

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 »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Climate Change / Read 3 Responses

Ozone—A Problem San Antonio Can No Longer Afford to Ignore

EagleFordFlareLate August provided a vivid reminder of San Antonio’s decade long challenge with air quality and a timely preview of an issue the entire region will be talking about next month:  ground level ozone (a.k.a. smog).

The last week of August, San Antonio air monitors registered some of the highest smog readings of the year. In fact, the city’s smog levels were higher than any other city in Texas on August 27.

Put simply, if you have asthma, or other breathing difficulties, you probably had a pretty tough time that week. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Environmental Protection Agency, Natural gas, Oil, San Antonio / Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed