TCEQ Doesn’t Let Science Get in the Way of Political Rhetoric

What was even more disappointing than the press release from the White House last week on the national ambient air quality standard for ozone was the statement issued from TCEQ on the matter. The statement was riddled with false assertions and incorrect information and appeared to be another example of the agency’s politically motivated campaign against the EPA. While others have blogged on the madness of this recent policy decision, I felt compelled to call out our own state environmental agency, the TCEQ, on the egregious manner in which they attempt to trample science.  A few of the falsehoods are debunked here:

TCEQ Myth #1

TCEQ claims that there is no compelling scientific reason to revise the ozone standard.  

Truth #1

The truth is that independent scientists convened on the Ozone Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) have said for years that the current ozone standard fails to protect human health, and have unanimously recommended that the standard be set within the range of 0.060–0.070 ppm. Letters from CASAC on March 26, 2007,  April 7, 2008 and March 30, 2011 unambiguously call for a standard within the range of 0.060–0.070 ppm.

In addition, in a letter to the President, 14 major health groups pleaded for a standard that was protective of human health and cautioned of the harms resulting from the interposing delays in issuance of the ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS).

Even EPA Administrator has stated publicly that the current standard is “scientifically indefensible.”

TCEQ Myth #2

TCEQ claims that current science does not justify further tightening of the ozone standards to protect public health.


Truth #2

Actually, the current science reaffirms older literature that finds that the current ozone standard is inadequate in protecting human health. Papers released since the last ozone review continue to demonstrate health effects at ozone concentrations below the current standard. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported a 19 percent increase in ICU admissions on higher ozone days and a 2011 study published in Environmental Research Letters found that emergency hospitalizations for total respiratory disease increased per 10ppb 24-hr ozone exposure among the elderly.


TCEQ Myth #3

TCEQ claims that other EPA rules will lead to Armageddon in the state with rolling blackout and job losses.

Truth #3

TCEQ has shown no proof for their claim of blackouts and job losses. The only ‘study’ that even attempts to tie the rule with rolling blackouts was a rushed report from ERCOT, which is run by some of the very members of industry that are opposing this rule.  At the outset, the study acknowledges both that Texas energy companies have known since 2005 that Texas was highly likely to be required to comply with this “good neighbor” rule.  The study provides almost no detail on what might actually happen and instead bases a rolling blackout scenario on a complicated series of ‘what if’s, that, if they were all to happen in a specific order, may “increase reliability impacts” which may include the aforementioned rolling outages.  As such we feel that this study serves as further evidence that, according to the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission “The presence of electric market stakeholders impairs the impartiality of the ERCOT Board.”

The science of ozone and the effects on public health are not disputed by credible scientists. Fear-mongering on blackouts should not replace real data. We need the TCEQ to leave the science-free zone and support public health protections – not only is it their mission, but indeed their responsibility.

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  1. Dr. James Singmaster
    Posted September 6, 2011 at 11:05 PM | Permalink

    Concerning EDF’s programs, when will its people wake up to our mass ever-growing organic waste messes that can be a major resource??? We are throwing away half a trillion dollars a year on what can be a clean energy source. And the same amount every year in near useless programs in trying to keep the hazards(Toxics, Drugs and Germs) in those wastes from escaping with costly monitoring programs. But EPA almost 2 years ago put limits on several drugs showing up in some drinking water. More escapes may soon cost llives and mega bucks for clean-ups if we do not realize that can be be valuable resource. The way to get this mess under control is making the messes into a resource by using pyrolysis on them. I have posted many comments about this action on several different blogs of EDF.
    Can EDF get itself to realize that our organic wastes can be a resource: they are an already harvested biofuel supply system usurping no land, water or fertilizer from food crops and also without having problems of pesticide and fertilizer runoffs. The amount of organic wastes may be several times what we could harvest iif we turned all our crop land into biofuel programs. Our disregard for organic wastes will be what wipes out the future for our descendants. I challenge EDF staff to recognize that our descendants will not have much chance to survive from mounting pollutant escapes from those wastes if we do not get organic wastes under control and make them into a resource.
    Dr. J. Singmaster, Environmental Chemist, Ret., Fremont, CA

  2. Posted April 19, 2013 at 8:31 PM | Permalink

    I do agree with all the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They are very convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are very short for novices. Could you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.