On Dec. 22, Texas Governor Greg Abbott received a letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the revised 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone throughout Texas.
The City of San Antonio had been anxiously awaiting notification from the EPA as to whether Bexar County would be designated a nonattainment community, an area considered to have air quality worse than the NAAQS, as defined in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970. On October 1, 2015, the EPA lowered the 8-hour ozone standard from 0.075 parts per million (ppm) to 0.070 ppm. The change in air quality standard meant that San Antonio and the surrounding region was sure to make the list. However, as per the letter from the EPA, San Antonio will remain in attainment status for now until final decisions are made early this spring. The EPA used air quality data from 2014-2016 to make its initial designations in the letter and have requested Governor Abbott submit 2017 Air quality data to the EPA by a February 28, 2018 deadline in order to make its final decisions.
A nonattainment designation would be a burden on business development and could deter new businesses from locating to San Antonio all together. Such a designation would also affect transportation projects and federal highway funding and require new or expanding manufacturers to enact tougher air pollution controls.
The leading priority for the Chamber’s Energy and Sustainability Committee over the past two years has been avoiding a non-attainment designation. “The EPA’s letter recommending an ‘attainment’ designation for Bexar County and surrounding areas is a recognition of our community’s commitment to improving air quality through voluntary measures – as we have repeatedly done in the past – and a testament to the effectiveness of the Chamber’s involvement on this issue,” said Brandon Seale, 2018 Energy and Sustainability Committee Chair and President of Howard Energy México.
While this is welcoming news, we understand the air quality challenges that exist in a city growing exponentially. Therefore, your Chamber will continue to support Bexar County and the City’s efforts in reducing emissions and improving air quality in San Antonio and the surrounding areas. We will continue to engage our members to identify low-cost, innovative ways to help reduce traffic congestion and pollution.