I think this forum topic might be a proper response to the following S-T article. "Build it and they have no choice." Article link
Planned federal ozone standard could affect millions here
By SCOTT STREATER
Early next year the federal government is expected to set a groundbreaking ozone standard that could dramatically affect millions of North Texas residents every day.
But if you want to tell the federal government how you feel about the proposal, which could force regional leaders to take drastic steps to slash pollution, you're going to have to hop on a plane or spend most of the day in the car.
That's because the only public hearing in Texas is scheduled for Wednesday in Houston.
Environmental groups are urging Dallas-Fort Worth residents to do the next best thing -- write and tell the Environmental Protection Agency that it needs to strengthen the ozone standard to better protect public health. Ozone is a lung irritant that at high enough concentrations can trigger asthma attacks and aggravate the conditions of those suffering from other respiratory ailments.
"The current standard is just way outside what any scientist would recommend for a standard that protects public health," said Matthew Tejada, an advocate with Texas Public Interest Research Group in Austin. "The EPA really needs to hear from people who say that ozone is affecting the quality of my life, my health and the health of my children and my community."
A number of regional leaders are also expected to write to the EPA. But they'll be asking federal regulators not to significantly strengthen the ozone standard. They argue that a stricter standard would force the Dallas-Fort Worth region to enact drastic restrictions on drivers, workers and industries.
They point to an EPA report last month that concluded that 20 Texas counties, including Tarrant and Dallas, could not meet a dramatically tougher standard because the technology does not exist to slash pollution enough to meet it.
"It's terrible to be held in a situation where you are in violation, yet you really don't have the tools to accomplish what needs to be done," said Mike Eastland, executive director of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, a regional planning group. "To me, that would be a tad bit unfair."
PROPOSED OZONE CHANGES
The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced plans in June to strengthen ozone regulations significantly. The agency says the existing standard fails to protect the public from the damaging effects of the lung-scarring pollutant.
Current standard: Last year, the EPA's science advisory committee recommended reducing the ozone standard to 70 parts per billion from 85. The EPA proposes lowering the threshold to between 70 and 75 parts per billion.
Who would be affected: Nationwide, 104 counties have ozone monitors that do not meet the existing standard, including nine in North Texas. Lowering the safe ozone threshold to 70 parts per billion would increase that number to 533 counties, according to the federal government.
Regional leaders have said they don't believe that they can meet the standard without dramatic changes.
What has been discussed: banning drive-through windows during ozone season, limiting hours for motorists to fill their gasoline tanks, restricting the use of off-road construction equipment, even banning afternoon Texas Rangers baseball games. Further steps would be needed to lower pollution that blows into the region from industrial sources, such as power plants in East and Central Texas.
Federal sanctions: It's easy to see why regional leaders are concerned. If any one of the Dallas-Fort Worth area's ozone monitors exceeds the federal standard four times in a calendar year, the entire region is considered to be in violation. Areas that fail to meet the standard can be subjected to severe sanctions, including emission limits that can cripple economic development.
Ozone levels now: Last year, air monitors in Dallas-Fort Worth measured ozone concentrations of at least 70 parts per billion 642 times over 73 days, according to state data.
The EPA is expected to complete the revisions to the ozone standard by March. They would not go into effect until at least 2010. If you go
-- What: a public hearing to discuss proposed revisions that would significantly strengthen federal ozone standards. The meeting is sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency.
-- When: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday.
-- Where: Marriott West Loop, 1750 W. Loop S., Houston
If you can't go
You can submit written comments to the EPA via e-mail, letter or fax through Oct. 9, said Tricia Crabtree, an environmental protection specialist with the agency.
-- Mail: Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2005-0172, Environmental Protection Agency, code 6102T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20460
-- E-mail: email@example.com
-- Web site: www.regulations.gov
-- Fax: 202-566-1741
Source: Environmental Protection Agency
Scott Streater, 817-390-7657