Sunday marked the official start of the 2012 ozone season. Unofficially, it began the week before on March 24th, when both the Frisco and “Dallas North” ozone monitors operated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recorded violations of the new federal standard of 75 ppb, and then on March 25th, when the Keller, Grapevine, and Eagle Mountain Lake monitors also all recorded violations of the 75 standard. Frisco came within less than a single ppb of being in violation of the old 85 ppb and set the record for the highest March ozone reading TCEQ’s ever recorded. It’s this old 85 ppb standard that DFW is still trying to meet even as the regulatory goalposts have been moved back to account for new science linking smog to heart attacks and strokes at lower levels of exposure. In submitting its new clean air plan to EPA to finally get below 85 ppb, you might remember that TCEQ predicted that in 2012, DFW would see the lowest ozone averages ever recorded – primarily because so many people are replacing their older more polluting cars with newer, cleaner ones. This prediction even came two months after the end of the 2011 ozone season showed DFW had worse smog than Houston. No, state leaders were not deterred by naysayers in taking a strong, optimistic stand for clean air when it came time to turn-in its compliance plan for EPA. Theirs is a faith-based initiative. According to Austin, all 18 DFW air quality monitors will be registering lower levels of smog in 2012 than any of them have ever recorded in the decade since monitoring began in DFW. At some monitors, TCEQ predicts summer maximums will drop by 40 parts per billion or more, an annual decrease no monitor in DFW has ever registered. Given the high readings from March already, it’s hard to believe that this prediction could possibly come true, but hey, they’re the experts,right? So put away those gas masks and get out and breathe that fresh North Texas air. Haze? No, that’s just steam.