The EPA’s plan calls for a smog limit between 60 and 70 molecules of ozone per billion molecules of air, down from 75 parts per billion set in the final months of Bush administration. Ozone is the main ingredient in smog.
Federal regulators have said the proposed standard reflects research showing the nation’s most widespread air pollutant poses greater health risks than previously thought. Chronic exposure can trigger asthma attacks, chest pain and premature death.
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. By the Sierra Club’s estimate, as much as 80 percent of the state’s population would be breathing air not meeting the standard.
A press release from Clean Air Texas, which includes information on how to email comments to the EPA on this if you missed the meeting, is here. Most of the naysaying from the TCEQ and from industry shills boiled down to “it’s too hard” and “it’s too expensive”. I see this as a great opportunity for innovation and invention, which will be an economic driver going forward. It’s also the case that the pollution we experience now is plenty expensive, it’s just that those costs tend be externalized. That can’t be allowed to continue, which is what this is all about. Having said all that, it is true that only so much of this is related to manufacturing and refining, and we can only make so big a dent in it without tackling vehicular emissions. Doing that, however, requires things like better emissions and fuel economy standards, and enabling people to drive less. Needless to say, that’s a lot harder to do. But we’ve got to start somewhere, and this is the place to do it.