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Houston air quality continues to improve; Ozone pollution declines despite population growth

Release Date: 08/28/2013
Contact Information: Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard, 214 665-2200 or R6Press@epa.gov

(Dallas – August 28, 2013) Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to find the Houston metro area is on track to attain an important milestone in ozone-pollution reduction. This follows a nearly 25-year trend of decreasing ozone readings for the area, despite significant population growth.

The EPA is proposing to approve the State of Texas’ plan for the Houston area to attain the 1997 standard for ground-level ozone pollution by 2018. This means EPA believes the emissions-cutting measures in the state’s plan have put the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria area on track to meet the 1997 federal 8-hour ozone standard of 84 parts per billion by 2018. The proposed rule is being made available for a 30 day review and comment by the public. After considering comments, EPA will take final action.

Historic ozone levels in the Houston area show this anticipated decline is part of a decades-long trend. Since the late 1980s, ozone levels have fallen steadily from about 120 parts per billion to current levels of 88 parts per billion. These reductions are even more impressive given Houston’s rank as one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. While reducing ozone pollution brings Houston closer to attaining federal clean-air standards, it also improves people’s health, especially among children, the elderly, and those with breathing problems.

As one of the main industrial areas of Texas, Houston will also benefit from monitoring greenhouse gas emissions. To date, EPA has issued all final greenhouse gas permits to eligible Texas facilities by the deadline. From pre-application consultations to post-application technical sessions, EPA’s permitting program helps Texas companies obtain their greenhouse gas permits within the one-year statutory deadline. The pre-consultation program has reduced the number of incomplete applications and helped many companies submit information required to complete their permit applications. GHG permit applications are processed in order of a complete application submitted to the agency. EPA has issued 18 final permits and is working on another 21.

More information on ground-level ozone:
http://www.epa.gov/groundlevelozone/

More information on EPA Region 6:
http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-region-6-south-central

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