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El Paso: Ozone History

Background and history of El Paso (ELP) area compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone.

2008 Eight-Hour Ozone Standard (2008 to Present)

On March 27, 2008, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strengthened the primary and secondary eight-hour ozone standard to 0.075 parts per million (73 FR 16436). Exit the TCEQ On March 10, 2009, the governor recommended to the EPA that El Paso County be designated nonattainment for the 2008 ozone standard (see the governor's letter to EPA region 6). Exit the TCEQ

In September 2009, the EPA announced it would reconsider the 2008 NAAQS, and on January 19, 2010 proposed to lower the primary ozone standard to a range of 0.060–0.070 ppm, and proposed a separate secondary standard based on cumulative seasonal average ozone concentrations. On September 2, 2011, President Obama announced that he had requested the EPA withdraw the proposed reconsidered ozone standard.

In a memo dated September 22, 2011 from EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy, the EPA announced that it would proceed with initial area designations under the 2008 eight-hour ozone standard, starting with the recommendations states made in 2009 and updating them with the most current, certified air quality data (2008 through 2010).

On May 21, 2012, the EPA published in the Federal Register final designations for the 2008 eight-hour ozone standard (77 FR 30088Exit the TCEQ. El Paso County was designated attainment/unclassifiable under the 2008 eight-hour ozone NAAQS, effective July 20, 2012.

1997 Eight-Hour Ozone Standard (1997 to Present)

On April 15, 2004, the EPA designated El Paso County attainment (effective June 15, 2004) for the 1997 eight-hour ozone NAAQS of 0.08 ppm. Monitors in El Paso County at that time showed attainment of both the one-hour and eight-hour ozone NAAQS. The EPA’s Phase I Implementation Rule for the eight-hour ozone standard directed that areas designated nonattainment for the one-hour ozone standard but attainment for the eight-hour ozone standard submit a maintenance plan for the 1997 eight-hour ozone standard by June 15, 2007. The TCEQ submitted this maintenance plan to the EPA on January 20, 2006. On January 15, 2009, the EPA proposed approval of the El Paso ozone maintenance SIP revision (74 FR 2387Exit the TCEQ. The EPA did not receive any adverse comments regarding the maintenance plan approval; the plan became effective on March 16, 2009. 

One-Hour Ozone Standard

Note: In 1997, the one-hour ozone standard was replaced by the more protective eight-hour ozone standard. The one-hour standard has been revoked in all areas, although some former one-hour ozone nonattainment areas have continuing obligations to comply with the anti-backsliding requirements described in 40 CFR 51.905(a).

As a result of the Federal Clean Air Act amendments of 1990, El Paso County was designated in nonattainment of the one-hour ozone NAAQS of 0.12 ppm. El Paso County was classified as a serious nonattainment area with an attainment deadline of November 15, 1999.  Plans to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds by 15% in El Paso County were submitted in 1993 and 1994.

In September 1994, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (a predecessor to the TCEQ) adopted a §818 demonstration for the El Paso area. Section 818 of the 1990 FCAA amendments included a new FCAA, §179B, containing special provisions for nonattainment areas affected by emissions from outside the United States. Under §179B, the EPA could approve a SIP revision for the El Paso area if the plan would achieve timely attainment of the NAAQS but for emissions from Mexico. Modeling showed that El Paso could attain the NAAQS with the planned 15% reduction in emissions from the United States side of the border alone.

In December 2002, the TCEQ adopted changes to the El Paso Vehicle Inspection/Maintenance program to make onboard diagnostic testing a contingency measure. This action was based on the El Paso area having experienced five years with no monitored violations of the ozone standard.

Comprehensive History of the Texas SIP

This SIP History gives a broad overview of the SIP revisions that have been submitted to the EPA by the State of Texas. Some sections may be obsolete or superseded by new revisions but have been retained for the sake of historical completeness.