Getting Tough on Smog

Now that the Environmental Protection Agency will reassess the nation's smog standards — one local environmentalist says the new standards will be better for health but tougher to attain. Laurie Johnson has more.

Smog, officially known as ground level ozone, irritates the lungs and can cause respiratory illnesses.

The EPA will propose revisions to the ozone standard by December.

Matthew Tejada is the executive director of the Galveston Houston Association for Smog Prevention and Mothers
for Clean Air
. He says by reconsidering the smog standards, the EPA is doing the right thing and the smart thing.

"They're putting science back at the core of national policy decisions with regard to the environment. But they're not just doing the smart thing in terms of executing their mission, but they're doing the smart thing in that they're going to stay the old Bush Administration standard and not make states go through this rigamarole of a bureaucratic dance to put together a clean air plan for a standard that's not going to be in effect anymore."

That's a good thing for Texas, which is already a non-attainment state.

But if the EPA enacts a tougher standard, which is likely, Texans can expect some significant changes.

"It's not going to just be really tough for Houston, but it's probably going to be tough for every metropolitan area in the state of Texas. Almost everybody is now going to be non-attainment across the state of Texas if you live in a major city. So that means we have got to stop looking as is air pollution only happens in really specific little areas. And we've got to take recognition of the fact that air pollution is a problem across the state and across the United States."

EPA officials say they will finalize any revisions to the standard by August of next year. And they say they'll work with state and local governments in the interim to maintain good air quality.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...