Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Air Plan Recommended For Approval

By Liz Moucka | September 28, 2010

The Dallas-Fort Worth clean air plan, known as the State Implementation Plan (SIP), is the first in the country proposed for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval. The 9-county DFW nonattainment area submitted their 8-hour SIP to the EPA on May 30, 2007.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area currently does not meet the federal air quality standard for ozone, which is a harmful air pollutant. Ozone forms when emissions from sources such as vehicles and industry mix with sunlight. According to the EPA, on-road and off-road vehicles and equipment make up about 70 percent of the ozone sources in the DFW area.

The SIP measures include controls on transportation; controls on compressor engines in DFW area and East Texas; controls on minor sources; controls on major sources; controls on cement kilns; controls on electrical generating units; retrofit or replacement of older diesel engines through the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP); repair or replacement of older cars and trucks through the AirCheck Texas Program; proposed restrictions on DERCs; new regulations on back-up generators; and many other weight of evidence items including energy efficiency.

TERP serves as a national model for replacing and retrofitting older diesel engines and is managed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Last spring, the DFW area beat out all other areas 2 to 1, with a record-setting $84 million in applications from the $110-million grant budget. Another funding opportunity is planned for this fall, but the dates have not yet been finalized. Follow TERP announcements online at http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/implementation/air/terp/index.html.

The EPA said they are proposing approval of this SIP because they believe the measures included in the plan, many of which are based upon efforts of local agencies and businesses, are bringing cleaner air to DFW. NOx emissions in the area are being reduced substantially and if efforts continue, the area will meet Federal clean air standards by the 2010 deadline. The control measures in this plan to reduce NOx emissions are among the most stringent in the country, controlling emissions from a wide variety of industrial sources and providing tens of millions of dollars to clean up diesel equipment.

The Dallas-Fort Worth nonattainment zone SIP has been published in the Federal Register for public review and comment. EPA will consider all relevant information submitted during the 30-day comment period, which ended August 11, and may modify its decision to approve the plan based on new information.

If the EPA approves the SIP, then all of the measures included in the state regulations become federally enforceable. If the area does not reach attainment by June 15, 2010, then the Federal Clean Air Act does not penalize the area for not developing an acceptable plan, but EPA is required to reclassify the area to the next higher level, in this case to serious ozone nonattainment.