Texas Uses the Latest Technology to Investigate, Evaluate and Improve Air Quality
Accurate and Thorough Emissions Inventories
As part of national and state efforts to protect human health and the environment, the TCEQ develops accurate and timely emissions inventories to support improving and maintaining air quality in Texas.
The emphasis is on data quality while ensuring compliance with the federal Clean Air Act and Legislative Budget Board requirements. To maximize staff resources, risk-based assessment prioritizes the review of each site’s annual point source emissions inventory. The TCEQ also publishes guidance annually to assist sites in preparing emissions inventories, including specific guidance on calculations for high-profile sources to ensure accurate emissions reporting. The program on emissions and inspections fees uses data from the point source emissions inventory in collecting approximately $35 million of revenue annually.
The TCEQ is committed to data transparency and accessibility. To accelerate point source data availability, the TCEQ is in the final stages of developing Web-based EI reporting. Nonpoint emissions data and supporting documentation are currently accessible through an Internet-based application with customizable reports.
Differential-Absorption LIDAR Remote Sensing Technology
The TCEQ continues to improve emissions inventories by using the latest scientific technologies and information to identify or refine quantification of ozone-precursor emissions. This research focuses on emissions sources that may have been historically unreported or underreported. Recent projects include a study that measured industrial emissions using differential-absorption LIDAR (DIAL) remote sensing technology, the first study of its type by a regulatory agency in the United States, and several passive infrared aerial surveys that have directly resulted in thousands of tons of emissions reductions.
GasFind Infrared Cameras
The TCEQ has improved the air quality and the point source emissions inventories by using GasFind Infrared cameras, an innovative technology that can remotely detect VOC emissions from stationary sources. During aerial surveys conducted in 2005 and 2007, the GasFindIR identified underreported or unreported VOC emissions from “landed” (near empty floating-roof) storage tanks, barges, and gas and oilfield storage tanks. These projects resulted in the development of VOC emission factors for upstream oil and gas storage tanks resulting in the 2005 area source emissions inventories increasing by more than 700,000 tons per year. In addition, regulated entities in the HGB area revised their 2002, 2003 and 2004 point source emissions inventories to account for emissions from landed storage tanks by adding 7,000–8,000 tons per reporting year.
New rules were adopted to address and eliminate these VOC emissions from storage tanks in the upstream oil and gas industry. The 2007 project identified fewer uncontrolled VOC emission sources and identified potentially significant emissions from some upstream oil and gas sites in the Houston and Dallas–Fort Worth areas. With the knowledge gained from the GasFindIR camera, the TCEQ has improved its emissions inventories and enhanced regulations to address these emissions, focusing efforts on real air quality solutions with real results.