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In the News

Air quality modeling shows need for continued emissions reductions

Friday, July 19, 2013

Recent modeling indicates that the region comprising Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties may be able to comply with stricter federal ozone standards expected in 2014 if the area can continue reducing its emissions. To make that happen, it’s all hands on deck for residents, business and government.

> Explore CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

Being out of compliance with new ozone standards would have serious consequences for the region, including loss of local control over air quality planning, strict limits on industrial growth, new constraints on transportation planning and costly pollution regulations.

In 2004 and again in 2012, the region barely avoided a formal designation of being a “nonattainment” area for ozone after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued stricter standards. By pursuing voluntary emission reduction strategies, the region could avoid this designation. 

> Learn about ozone pollution and nonattainment at EPA's website

Air quality modeling performed by both the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) and the EPA indicate that by 2015, ozone levels in the region may fall to the upper range of the federal agency’s expected new standards. The 2015 ozone levels likely will be used by EPA to formally designate areas as complying with or running afoul of the new standards.

Local modeling results show that the Austin area’s ozone levels should decline from 74 parts per billion in 2012 to about 70.0 to 70.9 parts per billion by 2015, right at the edge of the 60 to 70 parts per billion EPA will likely propose. These modeling results, however, do not account for some recent emissions research conducted by CAPCOG and AACOG, who will collaborate this year to further refine the estimates.

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Did you know?
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current ozone standard is 75 parts per billion (ppb), averaged over eight hours.
  • EPA determines an area’s emissions compliance by calculating the three-year average of the fourthhighest daily eight-hour ozone average at each monitoring station, a statistic known as the area’s design value. If the design value exceeds the standard, the area is considered in violation.
  • In 2012, the Austin area’s ozone design value was 74 ppb.

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Still, the projections demonstrate an ongoing urgent need for businesses, governments and residents to reduce emissions for continued compliance with federal ozone standards. As part of that effort, CAPCOG is leading a regional initiative to develop and implement reduction measures through EPA’s Ozone Advance Program.

> Take the Ozone Advance survey

Emission reduction strategies can include procurement policies, fleet management practices, local air quality ordinances, transportation emissions reduction measures, promotion of development and growth measures that reflect efficient and sustainable energy use and transportation solutions, public outreach and awareness campaigns and installation of pollution-control devices.

Funding is periodically available for implementing some of these emission reduction strategies through the Texas Railroad Commission’s Alternative Fuels Grant, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and the EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign.

> Discover the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition

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