In Texas, Houston and filthy air have always been synonymous. But the Armpit of Texas has just been dethroned. For concentrated, ozone-laced air pollution, Dallas-Fort Worth has outstripped the country's petrochemical hub as the EPA's worst offender.
According to watchdog group Downwinders at Risk, DFW exceeded air-quality standards more often during 2011 than Houston. Striking, no? Automobile pollution certainly plays a role, but not the biggest one. Natural gas production in the Barnett Shale is thought to be the biggest contributor. According to a 2009 study, emissions from all car and truck traffic in the nine-county Metroplex came to 273 tons per day. Emissions from oil and gas production totaled 307 tons per day during peak summer months.
So what's the state's plan? "After 20 years the state has never gotten a [State Implementation Plan] right," Downwinders director Jim Schermbeck tells Unfair Park. "This is the most lackadaisical SIP that's ever come along. This just says we're gonna have people buy new cars. In the real world this would never work."
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For its plan to reduce smog-forming emissions, the state is banking on people buying newer, cleaner cars. In this economy. With this unemployment rate. As for the Volatile Organic Compounds emitted in gas production, Schermbeck says the plan only reduces them by 14 tons per day.