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El Paso: Particulate Matter History

Background and history of the El Paso area's compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM).

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El Paso PM10 Moderate Nonattainment Area (1990 to Present)

On November 15, 1990, federal Clean Air Act (FCAA) amendments specified that all former PM Group I areas, including El Paso, were to be designated nonattainment.

In November 1991, Texas adopted a PM10 attainment demonstration for El Paso. This attainment demonstration included air quality and meteorological analyses, including data from a special December 1990 study that demonstrated the international scope of the air quality problem in El Paso. Section 179B of the FCAA contains special provisions for nonattainment areas like El Paso that are affected by emissions coming from outside the United States. Under these provisions, an area does not have to meet its attainment deadline if the state can demonstrate that it would attain the standard if not for those international emissions. Modeling of U.S. emissions indicated that El Paso would have attained the PM10 NAAQS in 1991, and by the 1994 attainment deadline, if not for emissions transported from Mexico. Texas also adopted control measures to minimize impacts from U.S. sources, including fugitive dust controls. The EPA approved the El Paso PM10 attainment demonstration on January 18, 1994 (59 FR 02532 ).

On January 25, 2012, the commission adopted a PM10 SIP revision that updated the PM controls for streets and alleys, and incorporated a revised Memorandum of Agreement between the TCEQ and the City of El Paso based on those updated controls. The EPA approved this SIP revision on December 14, 2015 ( 80 FR 77253 ).

El Paso Natural Events Action Plan

On February 21, 2007, the commission adopted the El Paso Natural Events Action Plan (NEAP). The NEAP is a plan for managing exceedances of the PM standards that are caused by uncontrollable natural events such as unusually high winds that result in dust storms. The NEAP describes how PM monitoring data is documented and analyzed, local public education and outreach programs, and steps to limit public exposure to PM emissions during natural events.

Particulate Matter (1971 to 1989)

In 1971, the EPA set the first primary and secondary NAAQS for PM, using total suspended particulates (TSP) as an indicator. The primary standard included an annual average standard of 75 µg/m3, and a 24-hour standard of 260 µg/m3. The secondary 24-hour standard was 150 µg/m3.

On March 30, 1979, the state adopted a SIP revision that included control strategies for 13 PM nonattainment areas, including El Paso. On July 11, 1980, the state adopted another SIP revision including specific plans to address fugitive dust emissions in seven nonattainment areas, including El Paso.

On July 1, 1987, the EPA revised the PM NAAQS, changing the indicator from TSP to PM10 and setting a new annual standard of 50 µg/m3 and a 24-hour standard of 150 µg/m3. The EPA issued classifications for areas around the country based on the probability that the area would exceed the PM10 NAAQS: areas with at least a 95% probability of violating the NAAQS were classified as Group I; areas with probabilities between 20% and 95%, as Group II, and areas with less than a 20% probability, as Group III. El Paso County was classified as a Group I area.

Due to the unique international nature of the PM10 problem in El Paso, in April 1988, the Texas Air Control Board requested time for more study of the problem. The EPA requested submission of an interim SIP revision until the final revision could be completed. In August 1989, the state submitted an interim SIP revision that included a commitment to work with the EPA to continue studies of PM10 transport from Ciudad Juárez.

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.