Sunday, October 26, 2014

Things Also Bigger In Texas: Pollution

One of Texas's top environmental officials (and really, can you think of a more depressing job?) is making the argument that ozone and smog in Texas doesn't matter, because we're all going to be inside anyway.

Texas’ chief toxicologist is arguing that the EPA shouldn’t tighten ground-level ozone, or smog, rules because there will be little to no public health benefit. Dr. Michael Honeycutt heads the toxicology division of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the state agency tasked with protecting Texans from pollution.

“Ozone is an outdoor air pollutant because systems such as air conditioning remove it from indoor air,” he argues on a blog post on the TCEQ website. “Since most people spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, we are rarely exposed to significant levels of ozone.” He adds that those who are “near death” and thus more vulnerable to ozone spend even more time inside.

Dude actually has earned the title of doctor and he's saying "pollution levels are irrelevant outside, because if it's bad, you'll be inside with A/C".

That's a bit like saying "Well we don't need more traffic regulations because cars are outside and people are inside.  Cars are an outside problem."

Scientist by the way say we really do need to tighten up smog rules.  Texas refuses, because, well, energy industry.

Dr. Honeycutt has taken it upon his shoulders to dispute this determination. He joins Texas Republicans and others nationwide who staunchly oppose efforts to reduce harmful ozone pollution. In September, a group of Texas Republicans proposed legislation that would require Congress to pass a federal statute every time the EPA wants to implement a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) such as the one proposed for ozone pollution. They argue that this is a matter of accountability, but it is within the EPA’s mandate to determine air quality standards. In a statement, Congressman Randy Weber (R-TX), cites a study from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) that the regulation would increase energy costs for Texas families and reduce family incomes in an amount equal to 182,000 lost jobs.

NAM is a trade group which lobbies for the likes of ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute. NYU’s Michael Livermore, a senior advisor at New York University’s Institute for Policy Integrity told Media Matters that the report “calculated costs in an insane way.” Frank Ackerman, a lecturer in climate and energy policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told Media Matters that the job-loss estimates are “fraudulent.”

Of course it's fraudulent.  We can't possibly make the energy industry pay to clean up after itself, despite literally being the most profitable companies on Earth.

Just don't go outside, Texas.

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