Texans Urge Environmental Protection Agency to Protect Public Health by Strengthening Ozone Standards


Courtney Naquin, courtney.naquin@sierraclub.org

Texas - Today, people across the country concerned for their environment and health, including many in Texas, testified at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s public hearing regarding the federal agency’s proposal to “bump up” the ozone pollution nonattainment designations for the current ozone standard from marginal to moderate across the country, which includes the greater Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) areas. Texans urged EPA to implement this stricter ozone proposal as these major areas of Texas have some of the worst smog conditions in the state, which has a major impact on weather conditions and public health. 

Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, did not meet its 2015 ozone standard by the fall 2021 deadline, triggering a bump up to a stricter nonattainment designation, as required by the Clean Air Act .Worse still, the Houston and Dallas areas have never been in attainment for a current ozone standard and are failing to meet an even less protective standard, established in 2008. EPA also proposed to change the nonattainment designations to severe for DFW and Houston for failure to comply with the 2008 standard.

These bump ups for each standard could trigger other stricter pollution controls from Texas and EPA that would reduce smog pollution from the source, such as transit and coal plants. Bexar County, DFW, and the Houston area are all impacted by major coal plants, including the Spruce Coal Plant in San Antonio; Martin Lake Coal Plant in northeast Texas impacting Dallas; and the Parish Coal Plant near Houston. These coal plants have faced years of public pressure to close due to being an economic burden on rate-payers and for severely impacting people’s health with pollution. 

DeeDee Belmares, San Antonio-based Climate Justice Organizer with Public Citizen, issued the following statement: 

“I’m very supportive of EPA doing what is necessary to protect families here in San Antonio who  unfortunately have grown accustomed to bad air days over the years. EPA needs to do right by the people of San Antonio and make sure we get a real plan to clean up the air here for the health and safety of all families. This starts by finalizing this ozone designation bump up for San Antonio so we can get to work cleaning up our air quality.” 

Jennifer Hadayia, Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston, issued the following statement: 

"The people in our region have lived too long breathing in unhealthy levels of smog from cars, trucks, refineries, factories, and the Parish plant; and environmental regulators in Texas have shown no serious indications they will change this course on their own. It's time for the EPA to send a strong message to those making these decisions in Texas that the time is now to reach ozone standards. Placing Houston in the 'severe' nonattainment designation has the real potential for action. Pushing this goal even further down the road won't protect public health." - 

Misti O’Quinn, North Texas organizer with the Sierra Club, issued the following statement:

“It is past time the EPA took decisive action on air pollution for Dallas. I live and work in Dallas and this pollution is very real for me and my kids, who suffer from asthma. People here in Dallas dealing with constant air pollution take on more of the burden of the pollution through those extra visits to the hospital and missed school and workdays. I am very supportive of EPA doing all that is necessary to improve the air quality here in Dallas including bumping up the nonattainment status to severe for the older standard and moderate for the current ozone standard.”


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.