Smoggy San Antonio facing further regulation as air quality continues to suffer


San Antonio soon will join the ranks of smoggy cities such as New York and Sacramento, California, after failing to improve its air quality statistics over the past three years, state and federal officials said Monday.

Officials from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said during a technical information meeting Monday that Bexar County will be bumped from “marginal” to “moderate” ozone nonattainment “sometime after September” — likely in early 2022. The new designation will mean San Antonio faces new air quality regulatory requirements with intensified federal oversight due to increased health concerns for residents breathing polluted air.

Houston and Dallas are facing the same reclassification, said Cara Scalpone, a TCEQ air modeling data analyst. Both the Dallas and Houston areas were recategorized from “serious” nonattainment under the 2008 standards to marginal by loosened standards in 2015.

In addition to New York and Sacramento, the only other areas of the country currently at moderate nonattainment are parts of two California counties: Nevada County, northeast of Sacramento, and Kern County, near Bakersfield.

The repercussions of the new designation could hit the local economy hard, according to a study co-conducted by Steve Nivin, associate professor of economics at St. Mary’s University. The increased oversight will make San Antonio more difficult to develop and less desirable for companies considering relocation or expansion, Nivin’s study found.

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San Antonio Report, 16 August 2021