October 1, 2015
AUSTIN – Even as ozone levels drop dramatically, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has once again lowered the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone to a level that is virtually impossible for parts of Texas to achieve without severely hampering local economic development, according to Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association (TXOGA).
“Ozone levels in Texas are dropping significantly while our state’s population has skyrocketed. An unfounded ozone standard, especially in the face of dramatically improving air quality, is out of touch and punitive,” said Staples. “Many more communities are expected fall into ‘non-attainment’ status, which can severely hamper economic development in those communities – all for an ozone standard with questionable health benefits.”
“By changing the ozone standard for the second time in recent years, EPA demonstrates a remarkable lack of understanding of the significant capital investments necessary and the time required to implement infrastructure changes to meet current standards,” said Staples. “Communities and employers have invested billions of dollars to meet the previous standard. Changing the standard and moving the target again actually discourages continued investments that are improving air quality in Texas.”
According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas ozone levels in 2014 either equaled or were lower than the best levels ever measured in most areas of the state. In the Houston area, eight-hour ozone levels improved 29 percent between 2000 and 2014 while the population increased over 34 percent. In the Dallas–Fort Worth area, eight-hour ozone levels have improved 21 percent over the past 15 years while the population grew more than 29 percent. Staples emphasized that the new ozone standard will also negatively impact the nation’s energy security.
“The EPA’s ozone standard will impede domestic oil and natural gas production, forcing continued reliance on countries like Russia and Iran for our energy needs. For questionable health benefits, EPA has slammed the brakes just as we are cementing our energy independence,” said Staples.