- Sanford Nowlin
- Members of Texas environmental organizations and Councilmember Ana Sandoval (second from right) discuss a new report on San Antonio's air quality in front of the Bexar County Courthouse.
Environment Texas Research & Policy Center, Frontier Group and Texas PIRG Education Fund assembled the study using Environmental Protection Agency air pollution records from around the country. The data tracks cities' ground-level ozone and fine-particulate pollution, which pose health risks for children and people with health issues.
"No Texan should have to experience a day of polluted air — let alone 49 days," said Emma Pabst, a global warming specialist with Environment Texas, at a news conference Tuesday. She warned that the rapidly changing climate will only worsen ozone problems.
The study recommends San Antonio and other cities work to reduce automobile emissions, invest in clean energy and tighten regulations on polluting industries.
The report's release comes as Bexar County faces a federal deadline to improve its air quality.
Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined that the county's air doesn't meet federal standards. As a result, the feds are expected to implement measures such as limits on factory expansions and highway construction to curb emissions.
However, a recent study by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality took issue with the EPA findings. State regulators maintain that their modeling shows pollution from sources outside the U.S. contributed heavily to Bexar's numbers.
At Tuesday's press event, District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval said local officials should take immediate steps to improve air quality instead of blaming it on outsiders.
"Some say that a significant amount of our pollution comes from outside our region and that the EPA, therefore, should not say we're failing to meet federal air quality standards," she said.
"But that sidesteps the main issue: that the lungs of our children are still stuck with the consequences, regardless of where the pollution originates."
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