TNRCC strengthens air quality plan for Houston area

The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) has approved a strengthened air quality plan for the eight-county Houston-Galveston ozone nonattainment area – a region that has failed to meet US ambient air quality standards for ozone.

The plan, which its proponents say is the most aggressive ever considered in Texas, contains computer modelling results which incorporate measures to combat nitrogen oxide emissions in the area by 90 percent. 54 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in the area are from industrial sources.

Along with NOx emission reductions, other control options include more effective vehicle emissions testing, the use of low-sulphur gasoline, a ban on construction equipment during certain periods, and federal standards to require the manufacture of cleaner cars and trucks.

The current plan, which was required as part of ongoing national negotiations between the EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council, also includes a ‘budget’ for air emissions which will be used to assure that road construction projects do not worsen air quality in the Houston-Galveston area.

“We are taking an important step in what continues to be a great challenge, to achieve good air quality in our largest metropolitan area,” said TNRCC Commissioner Ralph Marquez. “This plan, with its 90 percent reduction in industrial nitrogen oxide emissions, is unprecedented in the nation.”

The final plan must be submitted to the EPA by December 2000. The TNRCC will continue to work with local officials to refine the plan.

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