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Of smog and hot air

Get ready for the upcoming fight over Texas’ – and Houston’s – air quality.

The federal government proposed a tougher limit on ozone pollution Thursday that will force Houston to make deeper emissions cuts just as the former smog capital met the previous standard for the first time.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the new standard reflects research showing that the nation’s most widespread air pollutant poses greater health risks than previously thought.

The allowable smog level will be between 60 and 70 parts per billion, down from the 84 ppb standard set in 1997. The EPA will set the specific limit by August.

The tougher stance will likely have a profound effect on Texas, where more than 25 counties could be out of compliance and in jeopardy of losing federal highway funds.

Those areas will have up to 20 years to meet the new standard.

Yes, that was a 1997 standard, for which we had a deadline of 2019, that we’ve finally met, which will be tightened. The TCEQ and the pollution-producing industries have always complained about standards being too tough or too costly, because that’s what they do. Governor Perry, of course, has gone completely ballistic, because that’s what he does. Change is going to happen one way or another, but if we want it to happen sooner rather than later, and with as few obstacles as possible, it’s going to take new leadership. It’s a simple choice, really. The Trib has more, including Bill White’s three things we need to do to reduce greenhouse gases.

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  1. Brown Bess says:

    I hope Bill White and his advisers are astute enough to see dirty air as a winning issue for him among Republican women in urban areas. This hasn’t been an issue in a Gov’s race for a long time, not really. But this year it has the potential to really make Perry look not only stupid – easy enough – but also heartless and out of touch with a portion of his own constituency.

  2. Air Quality is definitely a mixed bag – our current compliance with EPA ozone standards hangs by a thin thread. With the recently announced, more stringent EPA regulations, our hard-won standing might slip before we have time to celebrate. Now it will be harder than ever to meet EPA requirements.

    Any one interested in finding more about our air quality over the last 10 years, as well as other factors affecting Quality of Place in Greater Houston can do so on January 20 at a Symposium by the Center for Houston’s Future. Former TCEQ Commissioner, and frequent environmental advocate, will be the Luncheon Speaker. There’s still time to register:

  3. […] EPA and the state of Texas have been on a collision course for months now, so this was just a matter of time. As Forrest Wilder notes, the crux of the […]