Gov. Rick Perry Announces Pilot Program to Combat Air Pollution
Initiative Will Help Lessen Severity of Ozone
HOUSTON – Gov. Rick Perry today announced the creation of an air pollution early warning system that will allow industry officials to take corrective action before smog develops. The pilot program – developed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) – represents a major technological advancement in air quality monitoring in the Houston area.
“This week we are taking an important step to fight pollution, clean the air, and improve public health by activating a system of monitors in the Houston area that will allow regulators and industry to react almost instantaneously when a pollution incident is detected,” said Perry. “Using the newest technology, this pilot project is the most aggressive and comprehensive air monitoring effort that we know of in the nation.”
According to TCEQ, the pilot Environmental Monitoring and Response System (EMRS) will consist of more than 90 monitoring sites. The pilot program has been operational since June 1, and TCEQ plans to eventually expand the program to other counties and to monitor additional chemicals. The TCEQ is planning a similar pilot program to monitor surface water quality and respond quickly to pollution and adverse conditions. The TCEQ already operates eight continuous monitoring stations in waters around the state and will install more this summer.
“The EMRS has the potential to fundamentally change our environmental protection focus, emphasizing early detection and corrective actions before pollution incidents ever rise to the level of a public danger,” Perry said. “Our vision is to develop a warning system to prevent threats to human health and the environment and to act swiftly when such potential threats has become a reality.”
Perry noted that this initiative is part of an ongoing clean air effort by the State of Texas. Last session, the legislature passed energy deregulation legislation that put Texas at the forefront of developing cleaner, renewable sources of energy. Additionally, three years ago Perry signed legislation requiring old plants to clean up or shut down, and the state has dedicated more than $140 million a year for the next five years for the Texas Emission Reduction Plan which will fund innovative projects to reduce emissions.
Perry also directed the Texas Department of Transportation two years ago to use cleaner-burning fuel in 75 percent of its Houston fleet to improve air quality and to convert as much of its fleet as possible to zero emissions systems, such as gas-electric hybrids.
“Working with the public sector, private industry can reduce pollution and help clean the air Texans and their workers breathe,” said Perry. “I believe Texans living in the Houston area will see the quality of the air they breathe improve through the new monitoring and response system we are announcing today.”
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