Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission
Mr. Tom Helms
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711
Dear Mr. Helms:
The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) has compiled the enclosed comments on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposal to integrate the national ambient air quality standards for ozone, fine particulate, and regional haze. These comments are based on our participation in the EPA-sponsored conference on this subject on August 1-2, 1995 and on TNRCC staff discussions.
Beverly Hartstock, Deputy Director
Office of Policy and Regulatory Development
cc: Ms. Pam Reed, Commissioner, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission
Mr. Ralph Marquez, Commissioner, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission
Mr. Barry R. McBee, Commissioner, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission
Mr. Dan Pearson, Executive Director, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission
Mr. Tom Diggs, Chief, Air Planning Section, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, Dallas
bcc: Jody Henneke, Director, Air Policy and Regulation Division
Herb Williams, Manager, Ozona State Implementation Plan Section, Air Policy and Regulation Division
Beeccher Cameron, Ozona State Implementation Plan Section, Air Policy and Regulation Division
BECAMERO/mlively, OPRD file
The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TRNCC) is slosely following the efforts of EPA to modify and integrate the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone, fine particulate, and regional haze. Through our participation in meetings with EPA and discussions among our staff, we have compiled the following concerns.
The TNRCC believes that applying the current ozone standard of 120 parts per billion (ppb) to a more reasonable averaging period would more closely reflect actual public exposure than the current one-hour averages. Additionally, by allowing more than three exceedences of the standard over three years, regulations and controls would not be based on relatively rare occurrences. EPA should also consider that a nonattainment designation to circumstances where there is evidence that a pollutant is affecting a wider geographical area. The standard for fine particulate should also be based on an averaged reading as is the current FM-10 standard.
EPA has identified a wide range of activities that may be contributing to that formation of particulate matter smaller than 10 microns. New or additional controls on these activities will be expensive, and EPA should be prepared to justify any regulatory program with data on health effects and/or visibility restrictions.
While computer modeling is useful in determining sites for air quality monitors, it should not be used to designate an area as nonattainment. the designation should be based on actual monitor readings adjusted for background levels.
It may be advisable to expand the air monitoring network to determine the influence of transport and background levels of any pollutant. The TNRCC believes that monitors should be placed for the purposed of measuring background levels either from transport or naturally occurring phenomena and to measure levels to which an urban population is actually exposed. Monitors placed to determine background should not be used to designate previously undesignated areas as nonattainment. The primary factor to consider in designating an area as nonattainment and requiring local control and regulations should be the ability of the area to control exceedences of NAAQS. Monitors placed within an urban area where exceedences are expected or ongoing should be used to determine the degree to which the area exceeds the background level. The area would then be responsible for control of the pollutant or precursors to a point consistent with the background.
Merging with current programs
Over the past two years, Texas has done extensive work to develop programs to implement the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments (CAAA).
This work continues, particularly in the Houston/Galveston ozone nonattainment area. The promulgation of a new ozone standard could change the control strategy that the TNRCC would develop as opposed to that used to meet the current standard. As a new NAAQS for ozone is developed, regulatory agencies should have the option to pause, without penalty from EPA, and evaluate their programs before proceeding with subsequent rulemaking. The TNRCC believes that a phased attainment demonstration, such as the one proposed for Houston/Galveston, possesses distinct advantages when considering any actions resulting from a change in NAAQS.
The role of EPA
The TNRCC needs a lot of flexibility from EPA to implement the CAAA in Texas. This flexibility should manifest itself in greater authority to establish, implement, and modify control measures to meet established CAAA goals. The TNRCC believes that this need for state and local options to evaluate and implement control measures will continue for the foreseeable future. However, these options should be derived from a clearly defined federal policy and a base of control measures.
The TNRCC recognized that the transport of pollutants has a significant effect on air quality in areas far removed from the source of these pollutants. A regional policy is the most effective way to deal with this problem. These regions should be based on the predominant transport patterns and have a common standard for major precursor of fine particulate sources located in the region. The ozone transport assessment group may serve as a model or nucleus around which regional policy can be built.
Steady reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions continue as a result of the federal acid rain and new source review programs. A similar strategy to deal with precursor gases for fine particulate and ozone would be effective. However, this program must be designed so as not to penalize specific areas through a nonattainment classification, over which, they would have little control.
In summary, TNRCC recognizes that these comments are very general in nature, but we will have more specific recommendations later. We hope they prove useful in creating a proposal for the integrated NAAQS and look forward to continued participation in the process.