EPA Fails to Take Action to Address Ozone Pollution Across Texas

DFW and Houston-Galveston-Brazoria ozone nonattainment areas fail to meet public health standards

Chrissy Mann, chrissy.mann@sierraclub.org, (512) 413-8346

DALLAS, TX - Late yesterday, Sierra Club and Downwinders at Risk Education Fund (Downwinders at Risk), represented by Earthjustice, announced their intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failure to appropriately classify two regions of Texas as moderate ozone nonattainment areas, as is required by the Clean Air Act.  

In 2018, EPA designated numerous counties across the country as being in marginal nonattainment under the 2015 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS), including Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston-Galveston-Brazoria. The NAAQS, a public health and environmental standard, for ground-level ozone pollution is 70 parts per billion. The goal of the standard is to  protect at-risk groups including children, those working outdoors, and people with health conditions like asthma. 

Under the Clean Air Act, these marginal nonattainment areas were required to meet the health-based standard by August 3, 2021. For areas that failed to meet the deadline, EPA is required to redesignate those areas to “moderate” nonattainment, requiring more stringent pollution reductions, by February 3, 2022.

Texas missed this deadline, meaning the EPA is now required by the Clean Air Act to “bump up” the nonattainment designation for both Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston-Galveston-Brazoria from “marginal” to “moderate” so that additional pollution control measures can be implemented and the ozone levels can be reduced. EPA failed to do so, and missed the February 3, 2022, deadline.  The Sierra Club and Downwinders at Risk intend to file suit to enforce EPA’s duty to protect the health of everyone living in these areas from excessive, dangerous ozone pollution, unless EPA takes action in the next 60 days. 

“We have been a nonattainment area for decades,” says Evelyn Mayo, Chair of Downwinders at Risk, a local watchdog air pollution group based in Dallas, Texas. “Residents in North Texas deserve to breathe clean air and we expect this administration to do more to that end”

“Both Texas and EPA missed their deadlines to take action, leaving millions of everyday Texans like my family at risk,” added Misti O’Quinn, North Texas organizer with the Sierra Club. “I live and work in Dallas and this pollution is very real for me and my kids, who suffer from asthma. People in ozone-affected communities like Dallas shoulder the expense of smog pollution through those extra visits to the hospital and missed school and workdays. It’s disappointing that, yet again, Texas and EPA aren’t doing enough to protect us here in Dallas.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

About Downwinders at Risk Education Fund

Downwinders at Risk Education Fund is a 27-year old clean air and environmental justice organization dedicated to taking effective action on behalf of those being harmed by air pollution. Our goal is to build a strong grassroots constituency and create new strategies for clean air in North Texas. We do this by informing, connecting, and mobilizing citizens to become active participants in the decision-making that affects the air we breathe. In doing so, we improve both the quality of our air and the quality of our democracy. For more information, visit www.downwindersatrisk.org.

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer. For more information, visit www.earthjustice.org.