New EPA smog rules are an improvement, but not good enough

Media Contacts
Sara E Smith

Environment Texas


“Less health-threatening pollution is better, but it’s not good enough for the more than half a million kids in Texas with asthma and all of us who want to breathe clean air.”

— Sara E. Smith, Environment Texas

Austin, TX — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today set a tighter but inadequate new standard for ozone, the health-threatening pollutant that forms when sunlight mixes with emissions from factories, power plants, and vehicles. Ozone — sometimes known as smog — triggers asthma attacks, worsens lung disease and can cut lives short.

The 70 parts per billion standard, whose issuance follows an intense lobbying effort by a host of polluting industries, is higher than the level recommended by independent scientists and leading public health organizations. While better than current rules, the new limit will save an estimated 2,890 fewer lives and 640,000 fewer asthma attacks than the most protective threshold EPA had considered.

Sara E. Smith, staff attorney for Environment Texas’ and lead on their clean air program, issued the following statement:

“Two of our biggest cities – Houston and Dallas – rank in the top 10 worst cities in the country for ozone. 21 of our 30 biggest counties got Fs in the American Lung Association’s State of The Air report. Less health-threatening pollution is better, but it’s not good enough for our kids and all of us who want to breathe clean air. The bottom line is too many of us will still suffer under this new smog threshold.

“We know this inadequate new standard was issued in the face of tremendous pressure from polluters and an increasingly hostile Congress, but that’s little consolation for our kids, the elderly, and the hundreds of thousands of Texans with asthma.

“We’ll fight against attempts to further weaken this new limit, and we’ll continue to work to reduce the air pollution from vehicles, factories and power plants that’s still making Texans sick. Specifically, we’ll continue to work to curb unpermitted emission events from our biggest industrial facilities, work to ensure that the legislature spends tax dollars collected for clean air programs and push for a transit system that doesn’t solely rely on single occupancy travel.”