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San Antonio Competing for Worst Air Quality in Texas

Summertime means “smogtime” for the Alamo City. With all the measurements over the last three years, San Antonio registers the 2nd worst air quality in the entire state; slightly worse than Houston, and Dallas holds the “distinction” of having the worst air quality in the entire Lone Star State.

San Antonio City Council member Ron Nirenberg, who represents the city in the Alamo Area Council of Governments Air Improvement Resources executive committee, telling the San Antonio Express-News that San Antonio must act “as soon as possible to reduce air pollution. He said he’s “a little frustrated” that the city took two years to craft a plan and is now teetering on noncompliance with federal air quality standards.

“I’m thinking, what more do we need to study? We’ve been talking about these things for a better part of a decade,” Nirenberg said as the panel met Wednesday.

Air quality monitoring for the last three warm-weather “ozone seasons,” from 2012 to 2014, shows San Antonio narrowly trailing only Dallas-Fort Worth, one of two Texas urban areas that for years have been listed in violation for ozone by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Under methods applied by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), San Antonio had a three-year average for ozone of 80 parts per billion (ppb), compared with 81 ppb in the Dallas area and 80 in Houston — the other Texas city in noncompliance.

So far during the 2015 ozone season, which runs through Oct. 31, San Antonio has had a recorded value at one monitoring station of 74 ppb — just below the current EPA standard of 75 ppb. AACOG Environmental Manager Steve Smeltzer said local levels are usually highest from late August to early October.

Liza Meyer, special projects manager with the city’s Office of Sustainability, agreed. “You’re right. It’s time to move. I think the sense of urgency is here now,” Meyer said. It would be the equivalent of removing 33,000 vehicles from local roadways, Meyer said.

Idling restrictions, like those in place in Dallas since 2008 and in 40 other Texas communities, would enable the city to cite vehicles, particularly large trucks, running idle for more than five minutes per hour, with fines ranging from $500 to $2,000, Meyer said.

The city estimates that would reduce nitrogen oxides by 150 tons annually — the equivalent of removing 14,000 vehicles. “TCEQ has found that idling restrictions will get you the best bang for the buck,” Meyer said.

Breitbart Texas will follow the actions of the San Antonio City Council and see what decisions are made, and the timelines to comply with Federal standards.

Milford is a news contributor to Breitbart Texas. You can follow him on Facebook.

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