Rider 8 State and Local Air Quality Planning Program: Background and History
The program originated with a $1,000,000 rider appropriation from the 74th Texas Legislature in 1995 to support local air quality planning efforts in Austin, San Antonio, Northeast Texas, and Corpus Christi toward attaining the Federal Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). A fifth area, Victoria, was added in 1998 and the Legislature's appropriation eventually grew to $5,075,000 by 2002.
By 2005, the TCEQ and three of these local areas (Austin, San Antonio, and Northeast Texas) had adopted Early Action Compacts into the Texas State Implementation Plan (SIP). Austin and Corpus Christi had entered into an Ozone Flex Agreement with the TCEQ and the U.S. EPA. All four programs prevented these areas from entering active nonattainment status under the 1997 eight-hour Ozone NAAQS through 2007.
In recognition of anticipated tougher federal ozone standards, the 81st Texas Legislature in 2009 appropriated the Rider 8 program an additional $2,000,000 and increased the number of areas eligible for program funding to include the El Paso, Beaumont–Port Arthur, and Waco areas. The Texas Legislature also directed the TCEQ to channel funds in a way most beneficial to the Texas SIP and approve all local work plans. Rider 8 Appropriation Language:
Air Quality Planning. Included in amounts appropriated above out of the Clean Air Account No. 151 in Strategy A.1.1, Air Quality Assessment and Planning, is $7,075,000 for the biennium for air quality planning activities to reduce ozone in areas as approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). These areas may include Waco, El Paso, Beaumont, Austin, Corpus Christi, Longview-Tyler-Marshall, San Antonio, and Victoria. These activities may include identifying, inventorying, and monitoring of pollution levels; modeling pollution levels; and the identification, quantification, and implementation of appropriate pollution reduction controls. The TCEQ shall allocate these funds in such a way as to channel the funds to those projects most useful for the State Implementation Plan (SIP). The areas receiving funds shall submit work plans for TCEQ approval describing the work they will complete with those funds.
Texas 81st Legislature Appropriations Rider 8 for TCEQ
Appropriation: Air Quality Planning
Included in amounts appropriated above is $7,075,000 for the biennium for air quality planning activities to reduce ozone in areas approved by the TCEQ, which may include Waco, El Paso, Beaumont, Austin, Corpus Christi, Longview-Tyler-Marshall, San Antonio, and Victoria. These activities may include identifying, inventorying, and monitoring, and modeling pollution levels and the identification, quantification, and implementation of appropriate pollution-reduction controls. The TCEQ is to channel the funds to those projects most useful for the State Implementation Plan. The areas receiving funds are to submit work plans for TCEQ approval.
Current Air Quality Planning Efforts
With guidance from the TCEQ, all eight areas have begun a phased approach to air quality planning. During fiscal 2010 (Phase I) each area took up four important tasks:
- updating the conceptual understanding of local ozone formation processes;
- assessing the state of local emissions inventories (identifying possible areas of improvement);
- analyzing the adequacy of air quality monitoring in their areas; and
- identifying controls for future in-depth study.
Fiscal 2011 builds on the previous activities to provide for detailed projects that support air quality planning. These activities are defined as Phase II. Local areas will implement the plans they developed in Phase I:
- improve local monitoring networks;
- emissions inventory improvements;
- develop local control strategies;
- use a preliminary photochemical modeling episode (June 2006) developed by the TCEQ to analyze ozone sources and conduct sensitivity tests to broad cuts in emissions;
- improve public understanding of the ozone problem and motivate the public to voluntarily reduce its contribution to ozone pollution; and
- involve local stakeholders in local air quality planning so that these efforts have broad support within local communities.