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In March 2004, the Travis County in conjunction with 11 other regional jurisdictions, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties; as well as the Cities of Austin, Bastrop, Elgin, Lockhart, Luling, Round Rock and San Marcos, adopted an Early Action Compact (EAC) to support maintenance of the 8-hour ozone standard. As a result, the region met the EAC objective of compliance with the 8-hour standard by December 31, 2007.

The 8-hour O3 Flex Plan

The 8-hour O3 Flex Plan is the latest in a series of regional initiatives to address regional ozone problems proactiviely and builds on the region's previous plans: the 1-hour O3 Flex Plan and the Early Action Compact. The 8-hour O3 Flex Plan is an Interlocal Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), which will continue local clean air plan commitments undertaken in the Early Action Compact and include additional commitments to maintain compliance with the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) through 2013. Should the region fail to meet any 8-O3 Flex Plan terms or milestones, resulting in termination of the agreement, safeguards allow emission reduction credits to be given for measures implemented if the area is subsequently designated nonattainment and is required to develop a nonattainment State Implementation Plan. The Memorandum of Agreement is between the local governments representing Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties and the cities of Austin, Bastrop, Elgin, Lockhart, Luling, Round Rock, and San Marcos (local governments), the TCEQ and EPA.

Voluntary initiatives, such as those outlined in the 8-O3 Flex Plan, have allowed the region to address ozone problems proactively rather than wait to address them through the prescribed federal nonattainment process. These initiatives have been instrumental in keeping the region in compliance with the ozone standard.

The Ozone Standard Changed

New Standard

In March 2008, EPA lowered the standard from 85 parts per billion (ppb) to 75 ppb. As a result, Governor Perry recommended to EPA that Travis County be designated as nonattainment under the new standard. This recommendation is based on air quality monitoring data from 2006-2008. However, EPA will not finalize that designation until March 12, 2010. If the region can complete the 2009 ozone season with a fourth-highest ozone reading of 77 ppb it is possible that the region could demonstrate compliance with the revised standard for 2007-2009 before the EPA makes the designation. The designation of attainment versus nonattainment has significant, region-wide consequences for air quality compliance requirements over many years.

The Big Push

Ozone Season Initiative

Monitor readings from this year’s ozone season, April 1st through October 31st, will determine if Travis County will be designated as nonattainment by the Environmental Protection Agency. 2009 is the year of the “Big Push”, a concerted regional effort to reduce ozone formation this ozone season. This effort is coordinated by the Clean Air Coalition, a Central Texas regional organization of local elected officials formed to promote clean air, the initiative will be carried out by its members, including Travis County. The “Big Push” will provide both significant short-term and sustainable emission reductions for achieving attainment in 2009 and maintaining the new standard. Activities include maximizing public outreach, accelerating the implementation of elements of the 8-O3 Flex Plan, and identifying and implementing additional cost effective emission reduction measures.

More actions adopted by Travis County Commissioners’ Court

Besides supporting the efforts of CAC, Travis County Commissioners’ Court has adopted specific actions that will help reduce ozone-forming emissions on Ozone Watch and Warning Days:

  1. Restrict fueling and the operation of all county gasoline or diesel powered lawn equipment;
  2. Establish special Ozone Watch Day Teleworking schedules for Travis County employees;
  3. Educate county employees on commuting options; and
  4. Expand ozone related communications to Travis County citizens and employees.

Become an Ozone Action Hero

Join forces with other Central Texas residents to fight air pollution and improve air quality. It is simple - visit http://www.ozoneheroes.com and sign the pledge. The website lists several different simple actions you can take to reduce harmful ozone emissions such as driving less, or smarter, turning off electronics and lights when not in use, operating dishwashers and dryers after 7:00pm, and more. By taking the pledge, you will receive a really cool decal.

If everyone would take a few actions to reduce ozone emissions, together the small actions will make a big difference. You can register for a free ozone alert message delivered to your e-mail by registering at Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Ozone E-Mail Alerts.

It’s Your Air, Your Commitment– Become an Ozone Action Hero and join forces to improve our air!

700 lavaca sm

Cynthia C. McDonald
County Executive

700 Lavaca Street, 5th Floor
PO Box 1748
Austin, Texas 78767 (Map)

Phone: (512) 854-9383
Fax: (512) 854-4697

Email TNR