According to the Chron, we may have to wait a little longer than we originally thought for that.
At the request of Gov. Rick Perry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday granted the eight-county Houston region an extra nine years to meet federal health standards for smog-forming ozone by formally classifying the problem as "severe."
The long-awaited decision ties Houston to Los Angeles in an unenviable way -- they are the only two places in the nation with a severe smog problem, according to the EPA.
Ozone is formed when emissions from tailpipes and smokestacks mix with sunlight. The toxic, colorless gas can damage the lungs, cause headaches and nausea and aggravate asthma.
Houston's car-dependent lifestyle, large concentration of industry and weather give the area one of the nation's longest smog seasons. Still, the EPA had classified the region's problem as "moderate" with a 2010 deadline for compliance.
In its ruling, the EPA deferred to the governor's request, saying that states have the right to volunteer for a higher classification. The new deadline is June 2019.
The request surprised some local officials, business leaders and environmentalists because Perry asked for a "double bump" in classification. They preferred a move from "moderate" to "serious" in classification and a corresponding 2013 deadline for compliance.
A recent state analysis showed that 18 of the region's 22 air-pollution monitors would achieve the standard by 2010, but two -- in Bayland Park and Deer Park -- would need until 2018 or later to get there.