It’s a Texas vs EPA Cage Match. Winner Takes All …The Air You Breathe

by jim on January 13, 2016

Cage MatchJOIN OUR TAG TEAM EFFORT TO TAKE DOWN THE STATE OF TEXAS
BUT WATCH OUT – THEY PLAY DIRTY

NEXT THURSDAY EVENING
JANUARY 21st
6:30 PM

616 Six Flags Road
First Floor HQ of the
North Central Texas Council of Governments

There's an important bureaucratic cage match between EPA and the State over how clean your air should be.

The state says just by hitching a ride on already-in-progress federal gasoline mix for cars and trucks, DFW ozone, or smog, will drop to levels "close enough" to the current federal smog standard of 75 parts per billion (approximately 78 ppb) . No new cuts in pollution required.

The EPA says not so fast – "close enough" may not be good enough this time around and you're not following the Clean Air Act in laying back and requiring no new cuts in pollution.

EPA has told Austin a failure to follow Clean Air Act rules will force it to take responsibility for the plan away from the State.

Is this something you want? If so, you should show up and  next Thursday evening to give the EPA the political support it needs to pull the rug out from under the State.


 

WHAT HAS THE EPA ALREADY SAID ABOUT THE STATE'S PLAN?
 
Along with comments from DFW residents, environmental groups, doctors, industry and elected officials, EPA itself will weigh-in with written comments on the TCEQ plan by the deadline of January 29th.
 
But we don't have to wait that long to find out what EPA really thinks about what the State is proposing. Last year, EPA provided 11 pages of comments on exactly the same plan.  

1) This plan won't work without more cuts in pollution

What EPA Said:
"Based on the monitoring data and lack of additional large reductions in NOx within areas of Texas that impact DFW, it is difficult to see how the area would reach attainment in 2018 based solely on federal measures reductions from mobile and non-road….The recent court decision that indicates the attainment year will likely be 2017 for moderate classification areas such as DFW, makes it less clear that the area will attain the standard by 2017 without additional reductions."
 
What EPA Meant:
It wasn't looking good when the deadline for reaching the 75 ppb standard was 2018 and the State didn't require any new cuts in air pollution, but now that the deadline is 2017, your do-nothing "close enough" plan is even less likely to work.  


2) Your case for doing nothing isn't very good

What EPA Said:

"While the State has provided a large chapter on Weight of Evidence, the principal evidence is the recent monitor data. The monitor data does not show the large drops in local ozone levels and therefore raises a fundamental question whether the photochemical modeling is working as an accurate tool for assessing attainment in 2018 for DFW." 

What EPA Meant:
Actual measurements of smog in DFW seem to undercut your claim that the air is getting cleaner faster. Maybe your computer model that's driving the entire plan isn't all that great. (And this was before smog levels went UP after the summer of 2015 – something not predicted by the State's model….)


3) Review pollution limits for the Midlothian cement kilns, or we'll reject your plan

What EPA Said:
"Because of significant changes in the type and number of cement kilns in Ellis County,…TCEQ's rules need to be reevaluated to insure these reductions are maintained, and the emission limits reflect a Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) level of control as required by the Clean Air Act…Failure to conduct a thorough RACT analysis for cement kilns which would include appropriate emission limits would prevent us from approving the RACT portion of the attainment plan submittal."

What EPA Meant:  
Update your kiln pollution limits, or this part of the plan is toast. (Texas chose not to perform this update, in essence, giving EPA the bureaucratic finger.)
 
 
4) Oil and Gas pollution seems to be keeping the region's smog levels higher than they should be

What EPA Said:
"Recent NOx trends (Figure 5-10 in TCEQ's Proposal) indicate a fairly flat NOx trend for several NO monitors in the western area of the DFW area (Eagle Mtn. Lake, Denton, and Parker County monitors). These monitors are in areas more impacted by the growth in NOx sources for Oil and Gas Development that seem to be countering the normal reduction in NOx levels seen at other monitors due to fleet turnover reductions (on-road and Nonroad). These higher NOx levels in the modeling domain that seem to be fairly flat with no change since 2009
raise concern that the area is not seeing the NOx reductions needed to bring the ozone levels down at these monitors."
 
What EPA Meant:
Since the historically worst-performing air pollution monitors in DFW are located in exactly the same area as a lot of gas and oil activity, and these monitors haven't been seeing the expected decrease in smog you predict, maybe you ought to think about cutting pollution from those oil and gas sources. Like we said, this plan needs more cuts in pollution.


5) Your own evidence supports cuts in pollution from the East Texas Coal Plants
   
What EPA Said:
"The TCEQ provided an evaluation of emissions from all of the utility electric generators in east and central Texas. However, the discussion in Appendix D on the formation, background levels, and transport of ozone strongly supports the implementation of controls on NOx sources located to the east and southeast of the DFW nonattainment area. How would a reduction in NOx emissions from utility electric generators in just the counties closest to the eastern and southern boundaries of the DFW area impact the DFW area?"

What EPA Meant:
Despite your protests, the State's own analysis shows cuts in pollution from the East Texas Coal Plants have a big impact on DFW smog levels and supports the argument for putting new controls on them. Did you actually run your fancy-dancy computer model to see what would happen if you did that? (No, the State did not. But UNT and Downwinders did.)

WHY WOULD AN EPA PLAN FOR DFW AIR  MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE?

No Biggie – maybe new controls on every large industrial polluter in the region…that's all
 
The EPA has already said DFW needs more cuts in air pollution to make any clean air  plan work. It's opened the door to cuts in pollution from  from the Midlothian cement kilns, oil and gas sources, and the East Texas coal plants.
 

If the EPA rejects the State's plan, the clock begins ticking: the State is warned it has to write a new plan and, meanwhile, EPA begins to write its own. If the State doesn't turn in a plan the EPA finds acceptable in 24 months,  the EPA plan is implemented instead.

An EPA plan brings everyone back to the bargaining table who's interested in cleaner air and all potential cuts – kilns, coal plants, and oil and gas –  are carefully considered.

The State has no interest  in any new cuts of pollution from any sources. It thinks it's plan is  already "close enough."

If the EPA is writing the plan, citizens can use the new UNT study to show the Agency which cuts get the largest drops in smog – using the State's own air model.

We can use Dr.Haley's study to show the approximate economic and public health benefits of those cuts.

More change happens if EPA is writing the plan.Enough to finally get DFW safe and legal air? We don't know until we try. The alternative is doing nothing.

Two very different futures for your lungs are being decided right now.
 
Your voice is needed to help the better one win out.

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