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State Ozone Designation Recommendation

This page provides information about Texas recommendations to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on ozone nonattainment designations.

NewExecutive Director's Recommended Designations for the 2015 Ozone NAAQS

On August 3, 2016, the commission will consider approval of designation recommendations for the 2015 ozone NAAQS (Non-Rule Project No. 2016-009-SIP-NR). Staff recommends that all counties in the State of Texas with regulatory ozone monitors exceeding the revised NAAQS based on certified 2013 through 2015 monitoring data, as well as all counties designated nonattainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, be designated nonattainment for the 2015 ozone NAAQS. This would result in new nonattainment designations for Bexar, Hood, and El Paso Counties. Additionally, staff recommends that all counties in the State of Texas that have regulatory ozone monitors with complete data meeting the revised NAAQS, and are not currently located in an area designated nonattainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, be designated attainment. Staff recommends that all other counties of the state be designated as unclassifiable/attainment. Finally, staff recommends that the nonattainment designation recommendations for Bexar, Hood, and El Paso Counties be revised to attainment should these counties meet the NAAQS with a 2016 design value of 70 parts per billion or less. If approved, the recommended designations will be provided to the governor for his consideration for submittal to the EPA by October 1, 2016.

Public Comment Period: State Designation Recommendations for the 2015 Ozone NAAQS

The TCEQ's Air Quality Division (AQD) solicited public comment on potential area designations and boundaries under the 2015 ozone NAAQS for consideration in developing state designation recommendations due to the EPA by October 1, 2016. The public comment period closed on April 15, 2016. The commission is scheduled to consider staff’s recommendation at its August 3, 2016 meeting. If approved by the commission, the recommendation will be submitted to the governor’s office for consideration.

The TCEQ’s AQD is considering recommending that counties with regulatory ozone monitors measuring over the 2015 ozone NAAQS of 70 parts per billion (ppb) be designated nonattainment. The latest available ozone monitoring data from 2013 through 2015 would be used in this recommendation. In addition, areas currently designated as nonattainment for the 2008 ozone standard would be recommended as nonattainment areas for the 2015 ozone standard. Based on preliminary 2015 ozone monitoring design values, new nonattainment counties under the 2015 ozone NAAQS would be Bexar (78 ppb), Hood (73 ppb), and El Paso (71 ppb). The recommendation under consideration would be for all other counties in Texas with regulatory monitors with ozone design values below the 2015 ozone NAAQS to be designated attainment including: Bell, Brewster, Cameron, Gregg, Harrison, Hidalgo, Hunt, Jefferson, McLennan, Navarro, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Randall, Smith, Travis, Victoria, and Webb. All other counties not having a regulatory ozone monitor would be recommended to have a designation of unclassifiable/attainment consistent with historical EPA designation practices.

Reference Documents:

2015 Ozone Standard

On October 1, 2015, the EPA revised the primary and secondary eight-hour NAAQS for ozone from 0.075 parts per million (ppm) to 0.070 ppm, or 70 parts per billion (ppb). Information about the revised ozone standard can be viewed at the EPA's Ozone (O3) Standards Exit the TCEQ Web page. The Federal Clean Air Act (FCAA) requires state designation recommendations to the EPA within one year of NAAQS promulgation. By October 1, 2016, the governor of each state must recommend designations of attainment, nonattainment, or unclassifiable under the 2015 eight-hour ozone standard for all areas of the state. The EPA is expected to make final designations by October 1, 2017.

2008 Ozone Standard Update

On September 22, 2011, the EPA announced it would move forward with implementation of its 2008 ozone standard.

On October 31, 2011, the governor of Texas submitted a letter to the EPA Region 6 with the state's updated recommendation covering designations under the federal 2008 eight-hour ozone standard. The letter updates the governor's March 10, 2009 recommendations.

On December 9, 2011, the EPA Region 6 sent a letter to governors responding to the state designation recommendations. States were given until February 29, 2012 to respond to the EPA.

On December 20, 2011, the EPA published in the Federal Register the dates for a public comment period covering the EPA's December 9 responses to states.

On January 11, 2012, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) submitted written comments to the EPA in response to the EPA's December 20, 2011, Federal Register notice.

On February 10, 2012, the TCEQ submitted a recommendation to the governor that he ask the EPA to reverse its plan to expand the DFW and HGB ozone nonattainment areas pursuant to the EPA's 2008 eight-hour ozone standard because there is insufficient scientific justification for the EPA's proposed expansion of these two ozone nonattainment areas. The governor submitted the letter and technical analysis to the EPA on February 29, 2012.

On May 21, 2012, the EPA published in the Federal Register final designations for the 2008 eight-hour ozone standard (77 FR 30088) Exit the TCEQ. The Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area was designated moderate nonattainment and the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria (HGB) area was designated marginal nonattainment. The effective date of the final rule is July 20, 2012.

On May 21, 2012, the EPA also published in the Federal Register a final rule to establish classification thresholds, establish December 31 of each relevant calendar year as the attainment date for each classification, and revoke the 1997 eight-hour ozone NAAQS for purposes of transportation conformity (77 FR 30160Exit the TCEQ.

2010 Proposed Ozone Standards

On January 6, 2010, the EPA proposed a primary eight-hour ozone air quality standard within the range of 0.060 to 0.070 parts per million (ppm) and a separate seasonal secondary standard within the range of 7 to 15 ppm-hours using a cumulative peak-weighted index. The primary standard protects people while the secondary standard protects welfare such as sensitive ecosystems and forests. The EPA's proposal, published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2010, was a reconsideration of the 2008 eight-hour standard of 0.075 ppm.

The TCEQ provided written comments on March 22, 2010.

The TCEQ's Air Quality Division hosted informational public meetings in June and July of 2010 on the EPA's proposed 2010 ozone air quality standards, providing the public an opportunity to obtain information and offer their comments on potential ozone nonattainment area boundaries and designations.

On September 2, 2011, the administration announced it would withdraw its proposed 2010 ozone standards.

2008 Ozone Standard

The 2008 ozone standard was published in the Federal Register on March 27, 2008. An EPA March 2000 memo provided guidance on recommending ozone-area boundaries that are larger or smaller than the Metropolitan Statistical Area, followed by a December 2008 memo. The 2008 standard revised the 1997 eight-hour ozone standard, which was published in the Federal Register on July 18, 1997. Information about the EPA's ozone standards can be viewed at this link. Information from the EPA about eight-hour ozone nonattainment areas can be viewed at this link.

On January 6, 2010, the EPA announced that it would extend by one year the deadline for promulgating initial area designations for the 2008 ozone standard (75 Federal Register 2936 ). The new deadline is March 12, 2011. If the EPA promulgates the proposed 2010 ozone standards, any requirements to designate areas and implement the 2008 ozone standard would no longer apply.

On March 10, 2009, the governor submitted a letter to the EPA Region 6 with the state's recommendation covering designations under the federal 2008 eight-hour ozone standard.

Earlier, on December 10, 2008, the commission  approved a nonattainment area designation recommendation. The state's recommendation was due to EPA by March 12, 2009. The commission's recommendation was sent to the governor for consideration.

The TCEQ's Air Quality Division hosted public meetings in July 2008, providing the public an opportunity to obtain information and offer their comments on potential ozone nonattainment boundaries and designations. The division invited written comments to be submitted by September 5, 2008. Copies of the public comments received and a copy of the presentation presented at the meetings are available at the following links:

Monitoring Data

Please visit the Current Ozone Levels Web page to find the current highest ozone levels in each of the metropolitan areas across Texas where ozone is measured by the TCEQ.