EPA Fails to Take Action to Address Ozone Pollution in Bexar County

Bexar County again fails to meet public health standards for ozone; large pollution sources like CP

San Antonio, TX - Today, Public Citizen and the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments  joined Sierra Club and others and announced their intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failure to appropriately classify Bexar County and San Antonio as a moderate ozone nonattainment area, thereby requiring reductions in harmful nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds under the the Clean Air Act.  

In September 2018, EPA designated Bexar County as failing to meet the 2015 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). EPA’s decision was recently reaffirmed by the 5th circuit. Texas’ own air quality monitors across Bexar County demonstrate that the area is still out of compliance with the NAAQS. 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, Texas was required to ensure that Bexar County met the health-based standard by September 24, 2021.  Because Bexar County did not meet the deadline, the Clean Air Act mandates that EPA redesignate or “bump up” the County’s status to “moderate” nonattainment, triggering more stringent pollution reductions. EPA’s deadline to act was March 24, 2022. EPA failed to do so.

“Air quality is certainly a determinant of good health and well being,” commented Adelita G. Cantu, PhD, RN, FAAN, Steering Committee Member, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. “We all must work together to ensure that the air we all share and breathe is free of contaminants that can reduce our collective quality of life.”

The Sierra Club, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, and Public Citizen intend to file suit to enforce EPA’s duty to protect the health of everyone living in Bexar County from excessive, dangerous ozone pollution, unless EPA takes action in the next 60 days. 

“It’s time to do what is necessary to improve the air quality in San Antonio,” said Chrissy Mann, Texas Senior Campaign Representative with Sierra Club. “CPS Energy can do its part, as the owner of the biggest single source of ozone forming pollution in Bexar County, by following through with their commitments to quickly retire Spruce Unit 1, a coal plant that does not have modern pollution control for nitrogen oxides, a key ingredient to ozone pollution.” 

“Families here in San Antonio have grown accustomed to bad air days over the years- that's not right and they deserve better," said DeeDee Belmares, San Antonio-based Climate Justice Organizer with Public Citizen. “EPA and the state of Texas need to do right by the people of San Antonio and make sure we get a real plan to clean up the air in San Antonio for the health and safety of all families.”

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.