Houston classified as having a severe smog problem
Houston has gone from being classified as having a “moderate” smog problem to a “severe” one. The smog is so bad they skipped over the level of “serious” and went straight to “severe”. Houston joins LA as being one of only two places in the country to have such a severe smog problem. Houston has until 2019 to meet federal air quality standards. The city has a lot of work to do.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday granted Gov. Rick Perry's request to classify the Houston area's smog problem as "severe," giving the region an extra nine years to meet federal health standards.
The eight-county Houston region, whose smog problem used to be classified as "moderate," now joins Los Angeles as the only two places in the nation with a severe smog problem, according to the EPA.
The Houston area now has until June 2019, instead of 2010, to meet federal air quality standards. The extension, however, is for Houston to meet the 1997 standard on ozone limits, which the EPA no longer considers safe for public health.
"I did not even know that the quality of the area around here was that bad," a resident said."We put a man on the moon. We can clean up the air in Houston. We just need cooperation and we need leadership," said Jane Laping, with Mothers For Clean Air.Houston's bad air starts with industrial plants and the ship channel releasing nitrogen oxide, which becomes ozone when mixed with sunlight. Wind carries the plume across the city."Houston is a perfect ozone creating machine. It's just a combination of all of the industry down here, all of the cars down here and the weather," said Andy Saenz with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.Members of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality heard from the public, which was outraged that another federal deadline will not be made."We deserve clean air. Who doesn't deserve clean air if you want to live?" resident Annie Stewart said.Officials said Houston has made progress on vehicle emissions, but there's more work to be done.
"What are we doing here?" said Matthew Tejada, executive director of the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention, in a story for Thursday editions of the Houston Chronicle. "We've just done a bureaucratic dance, and we're not any closer to clean air."
Perry requested the extension last year, surprising some local officials because he asked for a double bump in classification from moderate to severe, skipping over serious, which required compliance by 2013.