In October 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new guidelines for ozone pollution limits from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion; therefore, Texas sued the EPA for the 23rd time since early 2008.
High ozone pollution harms the most vulnerable people: children; the elderly; and sufferers of heart and lung ailments. Furthermore, researchers at Houston’s own Rice University found that during peak ozone pollution, heart attack risks increase by up to 4.6% and asthma attack risks increase by up to 10% when ozone levels are 50 – 70 parts per billion. Consequently, the EPA’s advisory committee urged an ozone limit as low as 60 parts per billion.
Despite the recommendation, the EPA adopted rules allowing higher pollution levels that would be more acceptable to industry. According to the EPA the new standard of 70 parts per billion could cost industry approximately $1.4 billion/year by 2025 but the health benefits of lowering pollution levels far outweigh the cost. A YouTube video setting forth the EPA’s new ozone pollution standards can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/user/USEPAgov
Meanwhile, Texas hired its own experts to the tune of $1.65 million. Those experts, at Massachusetts’ Gradient Corporation issued 2 study reports arguing that the alleged health benefits of lower pollution levels are exaggerated and that the new ozone standards would actually cost Texas more than $50 billion/year. After review by other experts, including a Harvard epidemiologist, Gradient’s published studies were denounced as “bullshit science.”
Despite Texas’ claim that it has managed to lower ozone pollution without stifling industry, the ozone pollution of some major Texas cities is reportedly horrific. In Houston, for example, ozone levels have reached their highest points in more than 10 years. In and around Houston, air quality monitors show an average of 81 parts per billion for 2015, one monitor hit 85 parts per billion and another reached 95 parts per billion.
Perhaps the most comical contribution comes from Michael Honeycutt, chief toxicologist for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Honeycutt states that the smog worsening asthma, lung disease, heart disease and premature death is not a big deal because Texans mostly stay indoors.
Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.