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EPA Recommends Evaluation of Four San Antonio Counties for New Air Quality Designation

Release Date: 12/4/2003
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

      Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended to Texas that the four counties in the San Antonio area (Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe and Wilson) remain under discussion as EPA and the state work toward a decision about 8-hour ozone air quality designations.  

      In July 2003, Gov. Rick Perry proposed initial designation boundaries.  The state's recommendation was the first step in working with EPA to designate areas which have not attained clean air standards and those areas which have achieved the clean air goal.  

      EPA will continue to work with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to gather data on the San Antonio area and evaluate appropriate boundaries for the non-attainment area. EPA is scheduled to issue final designation decisions by April 15, 2004.

      EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said, "We believe that all four counties in the San Antonio area need to be included within the non-attainment discussion.  We are inviting state leaders to submit more information to support their recommendation.  Four counties came forward voluntarily in an Early Action Compact to meet the 8-hour standard ahead of schedule, and should be recognized for their efforts."

      EPA sent a letter to the governor which suggests areas it believes should be considered in the nonattainment discussion and asked for any new analyses to support the state's recommendation. Other communities in Texas receiving suggested non-attainment designations today include Dallas/Fort Worth, Beaumont/Port Arthur, and Houston.  
      The process of designating attainment areas plays an important role in letting the public know whether air quality in a given area is healthy.  The new, more stringent standard is based on 8-hour averages of ozone levels, which reflects a more realistic measure of people's exposure and is more protective of public health than the 1-hour standard.

      EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt said, "Our goal is clean, safe air for every American to breathe.  We are developing a suite of clean air controls that will help the states and tribes meet these important new health standards."

      More information about ground-level ozone is available on the Internet at More information about the proposal, including a copy of the letter to the governor, is available at