We’ve been attending the EPA hearing in Arlington all day, but like a lot of you, we’ve been getting those “Orange Alerts” for high ozone levels. What we didn’t realize until we looked at the individual monitors just now was HOW orange it was. We’re seeing some of the highest single-hour readings all summer: 110 ppb at 2 pm in Keller, 107ppb in Grapevine at 2 pm, and 112 ppb at the Dallas North site at 1 pm. In all, there were six monitors with ozone levels in the tripe digits as of 3pm. It’s too soon to say whether these will translate into any significant regulatory landmarks – new site highs, a new Design Value at Keller, etc, but one thing is certain. This last week of Ozone Season has been a microcosm of this entire summer, with higher ozone levels at more places throughout the region.  

Mother Jones does a profile on Bryan Shaw, the often overlooked Chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. An ideological twin of Rick Perry that runs the state agency charged with enforcing every federal environmental law on the book, Shaw is the equivalent of the Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Department in Mississippi, circa 1960. Reading this goes a long way towards understanding why the TCEQ is the way it is right now. 

As many of you know, this Thursday, September 29th, from 9 am to 9pm at Arlington City Hall, the EPA will be holding one of only three national public hearings on new emission rules governing the gas drilling industry. At last glance, there were still a lot of empty speaking slots available in the mid afternoon and in the evening.  The first 5 or 6 slots are already filled with industry representatives. Don’t let the EPA get the impression North Texas doesn’t care about these emission, or that the industry speaks for us. These rules have been developed in part because of all the testimonies from citizens in the Shale already about the harms of air pollution from rigs, compressors, pipelines, etc.

Yesterday was September 26th. Saturday will be October 1 and the “official” end of the DFW “ozone season.” We’re supposed to be winding down the orange alerts and high ozone levels of Smogust. But someone didn’t tell September.  Besides creating some records highs early in the month, yesterday saw both the Parker County and Keller monitors with extremely high ozone levels – in the triple digits – set a new Parker County seasonal high of 96 ppb, and pushed the Parker monitor into being the 7th DFW monitor to violate the old 85 ppb standard.  

As promised, we’re posting the EPA’s directive on the new old 75 ppb federal ozone standard. Administrator Jackson referred to the document in testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday and this weekend Region 6 made it available to Downwinders. This is the first outline of how the mechanics of the switch from the current 85 ppb standard to the new 75 ppb one will take place. You can find a pdf of the memo here, at the bottom of our “Safe and Legal Air Project” webpage.

“Latinos would have a higher risk of disease and death without the (now gutted ozone) standards and would be affected more than other groups because they’re more likely to live in polluted areas, according to a report released by five groups. Asthma, bronchitis, organ damage and death rates would increase among the 39 percent of Latinos who live within 30 miles of a power plant and the one in two Latinos who live in the nation’s top 25 ozone-polluted cities such as Houston and Dallas, the report said.”

UPDATE: 8:30 PM    Things cooled off rapidly after 5pm and so did the ozone levels, just in the nick of time too. The Keller monitor barely escapes establishing a new season “4th high” and setting off a chain reaction that would have increased the entire regional ozone average by a part per billion or so. Instead, it merely tied its 4th highest reading of 95 ppb and the region’s Design Value stays at 90 ppb. Parker County did set a record today – its highest 8-hour average this summer, also at 95 ppb. Another day like today and it could be the 7th monitor out of compliance this year. Eagle Mountain Lake also saw its highest 8-hour average reading this year at 87ppb. A final middle finger salute to DFW from the Smog Monster in what’s been the worst year for ozone since 2006? We still have a week and a half to go until “ozone season” ends.

We hope our friend Mr. Reaves has been watching the news the past couple of days because there’s no better evidence that indeed Luminent Energy is playing high-level inside-the-beltway-chess with its employees than its own words and actions concerning the Air Transport Rule since last Monday’s announcement. We expect the company to name a campaign manager any day now.