(Austin, Texas – Aug. 22, 2012) On Monday, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed a motion to intervene in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) determination that pollution from Wise County, Texas contributes to unhealthy ozone "smog" in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and must be part of the clean air plan to restore healthy air for the region. Ozone, more commonly known as “smog,” is a deadly pollutant that causes a range of adverse health effects, including aggravation of asthma and other respiratory symptoms, decreased lung function, and increased hospital and emergency room visits for respiratory conditions. These impacts are particularly pronounced in children, the elderly, and individuals suffering from asthma.
“It is critical to address harmful ozone pollution in the Dallas/Fort Worth area,” said Elena Craft, Health Scientist at EDF. “We must work together to deploy available, cost-effective pollution control technologies to help protect the health of our families and communities, and EPA’s action is an important first step in this direction.”
Wise County itself contains no ozone air quality monitors, but a monitor located one-half mile from the county’s boundary has measured ozone concentrations that violate the nation’s health-based standards. In concluding Wise County contributes to harmful ozone pollution in the greater Dallas/Fort-Worth area, EPA relied on data from this monitor, along with evidence of increasing natural gas production in the county, and increases in population and driving, among other things.
The State of Texas and TCEQ, Wise County, the Texas Pipeline Association, the Gas Processors Association, Targa Resources Corporation, and Devon Energy Corporation have all challenged EPA’s determination that Wise County contributes to unhealthy ozone in Dallas/Fort Worth. If successful, these challenges could undermine important health protections in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area.