Grandfathered Polluters  Contribute to City  Smog 

The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club reported today that grandfathered air polluters are contributing to smog problems in Texas cities far away from those polluters. The Club released data based on state and federal agency records that highlight the problem of "regional transport" of nitrogen oxides (NOx), one of the major pollutants responsible for smog creation.

"Dirty old industrial plants in Texas are not just fouling their own nest," said Ken Kramer, state Sierra Club director. "Through pollution carried by wind currents these grandfathered air polluters are adding to the air quality problems of Texas cities and suburbs over a hundred miles from the plants. The pollution from grandfathered facilities is affecting the health of our kids and jeopardizing federal funds in communities which are receiving no direct economic benefits from these plants."

"Last year’s smoke and haze from Mexico and Central America dramatized the problem of air transport of pollutants," said Dr. Neil Carman, Clean Air Program Director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, "but the fact is that air transport of pollution occurs every day in Texas. Our analysis indicates that much of that windblown pollution comes from grandfathered plants.

"The Sierra Club analyzed air monitoring data from the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) to quantify air transport of grandfathered pollution," continued Dr. Carman, "and the findings of the analysis are dramatic. For example, grandfathered facilities within the four-county Dallas-Forth Worth nonattainment area itself emit over 13,000 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) each year, BUT grandfathered facilities within a 125 mile radius of the area emit over 87,000 tons of NOx – 6.5 times as much as emitted within the area."

"TNRCC has indicated that regional sources of air pollution may affect air quality 125 to 200 miles away," noted Dr. Carman. "The U.S. EPA even says that local smog problems are affected by regional sources in the range of 150 to over 500 miles away. Even using the more conservative TNRCC range, however, we see significant impacts of regional transport on air quality problems in many Texas cities."

"The impact of regional air transport is a special concern in the so-called near non-attainment areas in Texas," said Dr. Carman. "These are the areas which do not presently violate national ambient air quality standards but which are dangerously close to doing so. The areas are Austin, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Longview-Tyler-Marshall. Corpus Christi has significant grandfathered facilities. The other cities have fewer grandfathered facilities BUT their air quality is affected significantly by grandfathered facilities upwind of the respective cities."

"The impact of grandfathered NOx emissions from the regional transport areas affecting Austin, San Antonio, and Longview-Tyler-Marshall is substantial," noted Dr. Carman. He summarized the impacts for each area as follows:

"(1) The five-county Austin near non-attainment area has less than 5,000 tons of grandfathered NOx emissions produced in the area, but almost 96,000 tons of grandfathered NOx are emitted within its 125-mile radius regional transport area. These regional transport emissions are the equivalent of NOx emissions from approximately 4.7 million cars!

"(2) The four-county San Antonio near non-attainment area also produces less than 5,000 tons of grandfathered NOx emissions, but almost 100,000 tons of grandfathered NOx emissions are produced within the 125-mile regional transport area. The transport emissions are the equivalent of NOx emissions from almost 4.9 million cars.

"(3) The Longview-Tyler-Marshall near non-attainment area produces just over 5,000 tons of grandfathered NOx emissions, but over 75,000 tons of grandfathered NOx emissions are produced within the 125-mile radius regional transport area. The transport emissions are the equivalent of NOx emissions from almost 3.7 million cars."

"The bottomline is clear, even if our air isn’t," said Sierra Club state director Kramer, "we can’t keep the air in many of our cities clean without dealing with regional transport of air pollution, and we can’t deal with regional transport effectively without closing the loophole which allows grandfathered plants to continue to pollute at thirty-year old levels."