Texas Clean Air Matters

Selected tag(s): air quality

EPA Revises Ozone Standard – Texans Ready for Healthier Air

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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.

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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 »

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

Air Quality Poses Challenges and Opportunities for San Antonio’s New Mayor

SONY DSCTexans don’t always associate clean air with major urban areas, and for good reason. The heavy industrial activity, electric power plants, and vehicular traffic in big cities all combine to create ground level ozone, commonly known as smog. Increased ozone and smog has known negative impacts on human health, including causing asthma  attacks and other respiratory problems. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates ozone and sets guidelines for when a city is in compliance with air quality standards. Currently, San Antonio is technically in compliance with EPA ozone standards, but only by a quirk in how the agency’s compliance timelines work. A closer look actually shows the city has the second worst air quality of any urban area in Texas – second only to Dallas/Fort Worth.

The correlation between ozone and public health has spurred EPA to revise and strengthen its national ozone standards. If San Antonio continues with business as usual, it’s clear local air quality and public health will continue to suffer, and San Antonio will be officially designated as non-compliant with EPA standards. Read More »

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Transportation Research Board Leads The Way In New Research To Inform Freight and Marine Decision Making

Recent years have seen significant changes in the global freight and supply chain system. An expanded Panama Canal, significant population growth in the South and Southeast, and new infrastructure and system resiliency demands pose a challenge to our aging freight transportation system. It is crucial for researchers, policy makers and practitioners to work together and prioritize research to overcome these new challenges. Fortunately, the National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board (TRB) is working with stakeholders, including EDF, to advance critical research efforts that will help modernize the global transportation system.

Earlier this month, TRB reviewed ongoing research for marine and freight transportation. In doing so, TRB also established priorities for future studies, with an overarching goal to “promote innovation and progress in transportation.” EDF will partner with TRB to champion innovative research and facilitate a transition to cleaner and more efficient marine and freight transportation choices going forward.

Texas faces many pressing transportation issues of its own. Record traffic growth, rapid expansion at the Port of Houston, booming population growth across the state, and a flurry of oil and gas drilling activity all pose unique infrastructure and air quality challenges to the Lone Star State.

A key transportation challenge faced by Texas is congestion at its U.S.-Mexico border crossings. Emissions from idling trucks at crowded border crossings have brought air pollution concerns in border cities such as El Paso and Laredo.  The Texas Department of Transportation is collaborating with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to develop a tool to help streamline border crossings. The Border Crossing Information System provides drivers, carriers and other stakeholders with real-time and historical information about border crossing wait-times and delays. The data make it easy for truck drivers to understand congestion patterns, thereby reducing vehicle idling and harmful air emissions. Read More »

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Mom Conveys Concern About Texas Air Quality

Guest post from DeeDra Parrish, a Fort Worth homeowner, wife and mother of two children.

Last year I wrote to my Congresswoman Sen. Wendy Davis that as a Fort Worth taxpayer, working professional and most of all, mother of two, I had deep concerns about our declining Texas air and water quality. I’m not an environmental activist, but as the mother of a toddler with asthma,* I could not in clear conscience sit quietly any longer, especially after learning about the effects local gas drilling was having on our air quality.

Perhaps many of you have never had to hear the distressing sounds of a baby breathing fast and hard trying to get more oxygen into her lungs, or coughing so much through the night that she must be given nebulizer treatments.  I hope you never do.

But last week, I read that the Environmental Protection Agency downgraded our regional air quality from “moderate” to “serious” and it moved me to write again. When will we begin taking our air quality seriously enough to reverse these negative trends?

I have read many news articles quoting our state leaders’ emphasis on jobs and the economy. And yet, I also read on this blog recently that there are hidden costs of pollution, such as rising asthma and cancer rates. Why aren’t more people touting these facts? Don’t they also negatively affect our economy?

I’m a mom and I want clean air for my kids. Is anyone paying attention to what’s happening here?

*In Texas, asthma is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases, and the continued rise in prevalence rates makes it one of the state’s biggest health concerns. According to a 2007 study by the Texas Department of State Health Services, an estimated 2.3 million (12.9%) adult Texans have self-reported lifetime asthma and 1.4 million (8.2%) have current asthma. Both of these estimates are higher than the national averages. Sadly, asthma affects more children than any other chronic disease and is one of the most frequent reasons for hospital admissions among children. — The Burden of Asthma in Texas: A Report From The Texas Asthma Control Program, 2007


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