Breathing In That Texas Dirty Air

Residents from downwind states also in danger

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I spent a few days in Houston attending an (insert irony here) air pollution hearing in June. After only a few days, I felt run-down, my eyes burning and my breathing labored. I believe my symptoms were caused by breathing in Houston’s heavily polluted air.

That’s not the only area of Texas exposed to dirty air. Current and proposed power plants will produce nearly one million tons of criteria pollutants annually. With its 21 operating coal plants and seven proposed coal plants, Texas has the largest number of any state in the nation. Which is why it’s no surprise that states outside of Texas are being contaminated, too.

We filed suit on behalf of Sierra Club to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to intervene, and establish and reinforce federal air standards in Texas to reign in the estimated 400,000 tons per year of ozone-forming pollution, more than 227 million tons per year of carbon dioxide, huge quantities of soot and other fine particle pollution, and almost 14,000 pounds per year of mercury.

Here’s what Earthjustice associate attorney Khushi Desai had to say about the lawsuit:

We maintain that Texas’s continued evasion of its Clean Air Act obligations has unduly compromised the health of its own citizens, as well as those residing in downwind states, for far too long. Our suit says that EPA must, as the law requires, finally address Texas’ failures and take action to implement national air quality standards in the state.

Raviya was a press secretary at Earthjustice in the Washington, D.C. office from 2008 to 2014, working on issues including federal rulemakings, energy efficiency laws and coal ash pollution.