Texas Clean Air Matters

Soot Pollution Limits Unanimously Upheld in Court, Continuing Clean Air Victory Streak

rp_air-pollution-source-NRDC-300x187.jpgLast week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) particulate matter (soot) pollution standard, ruling that EPA’s decision to strengthen the standard in 2012 was firmly grounded in science and the law. The ruling also upheld EPA’s new requirement that states install air quality monitors near heavy traffic roads, where soot pollution levels can spike. The court’s decision is the latest in a string of legal victories for critical health protections on air pollution.

When fossil fuels are burned in an automobile or power plant, they release soot pollution, very fine, ashy particles less than one tenth the width of a human hair. These particles are so small that the air can carry them for long distances. When inhaled, soot particles penetrate deep into the lungs, where they can cross into the bloodstream via the path normally taken by inhaled oxygen. Exposure to soot pollution can inflame and alter our blood vessels, cutting off the oxygen supply to our heart and brain, leading to a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiac event. Read More »

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One Year Later: Texas Environmental Agency Fails to Address Public Comments on Pollution in Texas City

This post was co-authored by Adrian Shelley, Air Alliance Houston Executive Director. 


Estimated Distribution of Benzene Annual Concentration, Based on Retrieved Primary Source Location and Wind Direction Frequency

One year ago this week, EDF, along with Air Alliance Houston (AAH), submitted comments to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regarding its proposal to remove Texas City from the state’s Air Pollutant Watch List (APWL). We believe the agency’s proposal to remove Texas City from the Watch List for benzene and hydrogen sulfide, two lethal air pollutants, was premature.

To date, the TCEQ has not addressed our public comments on the Texas City proposal, though it has found time to analyze and recommend two other areas for removal from the APWL. We believe that this reflects TCEQ’s misplaced priorities. The agency seems to prefer removing areas from the APWL — thereby lifting a burden on industry— rather than ensuring adequate protection for public health. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Environment, TCEQ, Texas Permitting / Tagged , , | Comments are closed

State of the Air 2014: 19 Texas Counties Continue to Struggle with Ozone Pollution

State of the Air ALA 2014Last week, the American Lung Association (ALA) released its annual State of the Air report, which reviews air pollution data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for two of the most hazardous types of air pollution: ozone and particulate matter.

Overall findings indicate that ozone pollution increased in metropolitan areas throughout the nation due to warmer temperatures. At the same time, fine particle pollution, or soot as it is most commonly called, decreased due to fewer emissions from coal-fired power plants and wider use of cleaner fuels and engines.

For a primer on ozone pollution and health, read here.

Unfortunately, Houston crept up in the rankings to 6th most polluted for ozone in the country (up from 7th last year).  And with the exception of Dallas-Fort Worth, other cities in Texas followed the national ozone trend, reporting a greater number of unhealthy days this year. Texas cities did fare better on soot pollution, although a notable exception was El Paso, which was one of only five U.S. cities that saw an increase in year-round pollution. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Dallas Fort-Worth, Environment, Ozone / Tagged | Comments are closed

Air Emissions from Eagle Ford Oil and Gas Activity Expected to Quadruple over next Four Years

Well site located in Eagle Ford Shale play

Well site located in Eagle Ford Shale play

Late last week, the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) released a report outlining emission projections from oil and gas activity in the Eagle Ford Shale play, the most active drilling area in the country right now. Under the moderate drilling activity scenario, projections of air pollutants are expected to quadruple in the next four years. Even though this seems like a staggering prediction, it is likely an underestimation, given certain emissions are not accounted for in the inventory.

What does the report say?

The report assesses the emissions from oil and gas activity in the Eagle Ford Shale play and projects air pollution under three different development scenarios: low, moderate, and aggressive. Projections over the next several years indicate that we can expect substantial increases in smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and carbon monoxide. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, GHGs, Natural gas, Oil, Ozone, San Antonio, TCEQ / Tagged , , | Read 1 Response

Air Quality Report: Texas Has More Work To Do

Source: American Lung Association

Texas climbed higher among the national “worst ozone” rankings list, but most of the nation continued on a long-term trend toward much healthier air, according to the Annual State of the Air Report released this week from the American Lung Association (ALA).

The report reviewed air pollution data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for two of the most hazardous types of pollution: ozone and particle pollution.

Key National Findings:

  • More than 131 million people (42 percent of the U.S. population) live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution.
  • Los Angeles has cut one-third of its unhealthy ozone days since first the State of the Air report came out in 2000.
  • Eighteen cities had lower year-round levels of particle pollution, including 16 cities with their lowest levels recorded.

Key Texas Findings:

  • Unfortunately Houston-Baytown-Huntsville ranked 7th place among the most ozone-polluted cities in the country, and Dallas-Fort Worth made a huge leap to 8th place nationally from 13th place just two years ago. Harris County also failed with regard to annual particle pollution.
  • Fifteen Texas Counties received a grade of “F” for ozone pollution:
    • Harris County (67 orange level ozone days, 10 red)
    • Dallas County (34 orange level ozone days, 4 red)
    • Bexar County
    • Brazoria County
    • Collin County
    • Denton County
    • Galveston County
    • Gregg County
    • Hood County
    • Jefferson County
    • Johnson County
    • Montgomery County
    • Orange County
    • Rockwall County
    • Tarrant County
    • On a more positive note, Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville made two of the “cleanest U.S. cities” list for ozone and short-term particle pollution.
    • To find out if your Texas town is on the most polluted list, visit the ALA site.

Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Protection Agency, Ozone / Read 2 Responses

Heavy Duty Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Hybrid Trucks Rolling Into Houston

Source: www.earthtechling.org

Thanks to funding from the Department of Energy (DOE) and some committed regional stakeholders that include  Houston Galveston Area Council (HGAC), Total Transportation Services, Inc. (TTSI), Air Products, Vision Industries, and EDF, 20 dirty, diesel powered heavy duty trucks, the ones carrying large containers, will be replaced with zero-emission TYRANO™ hydrogen fuel cell-electric trucks.  The DOE granted HGAC $3.4 million in funding to launch a zero emission engine technology demonstration project – the largest of its kind- at the Port of Houston Authority (PHA), where heavy duty trucks are projected to account for almost half of all port emissions by 2015.

Expected emission reductions from the project include 39 tons of nitrogen oxides and 0.8 tons of particulate matter per year. This award is especially timely as the Houston area is on the verge of a non-attainment designation with the newly strengthened particulate matter standard and still struggles to meet the national ambient air quality standard for ozone.  In addition to reductions of criteria air pollutants, the demo will enable the displacement of 200,000 gallons of diesel annually (equivalent to reducing 2,180 tons of CO2).

Historically speaking, the cargo transport sector has been confined to older, dirtier diesel engines. This award signifies a positive step forward in demonstrating a new technology for the freight sector. The trucks are expected to be rolled out later this year, and will be fueled with hydrogen locally sourced from natural gas feedstock.

In addition, over 80 percent of the truck components will be built and assembled right here in America.  Clean air and clean energy for a better economy makes for a triple win.

Also posted in Air Pollution, Goods Movement, Houston, Transportation / Read 1 Response