THURSDAY, AUGUST 24, 2000 512/239-5000 (Pager 512/896-3727)


Texas 2000 Air Quality Study is Most Extensive in the History of Texas

Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commissioner (TNRCC) Ralph Marquez was joined by Houston Mayor Lee Brown, Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, EPA Region 6 Administrator Gregg Cooke and others today to officially kick off the Texas 2000 Air Quality Study, the most exhaustive study of air quality ever conducted in Texas.

The study, which will cost as much as $20 million, is a comprehensive research project designed to shed new light on the complicated issues associated with air quality in the Houston-Galveston area and throughout East Texas. The month-long study began August 15.

"This study will advance our understanding of air quality problems and allow us to better target our resources, not only in the Houston-Galveston area but across the eastern third of the state," Marquez said. "The partnership is using the latest in research tools as well as bringing top scientists from around the country to bring us another step closer to ensuring clean air for all citizens."

The Texas 2000 Air Quality Study is a cooperative effort of more than 30 public, private and academic institutions utilizing the expertise of more than 150 scientists and engineers from throughout the country. The goal of the study is to develop scientific information that will be used to develop better assessment tools and more efficient and cost-effective strategies to improve air quality in Texas.

The study will look not only at the sources of ozone precursors and fine particulate matter, but also how these pollutants move across regions of the state. The results of the study also will provide valuable information for areas of the country similar to Texas.

"How pollution from one area affects air quality miles away is an important emerging issue across the country," said EPA Region 6 Administrator Gregg Cooke. "This study's analysis of air pollution migration will help Texas and other regions with similar concerns plan effective strategies to ensure public health."

The study will utilize six specially-equipped research aircraft from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Department of Energy, Baylor University and NASA. Other resources include more than 60 air quality and meteorological monitoring stations located across the eastern third of Texas and in parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.


The primary focus of the study will be the Houston-Galveston region.

"For the public health of our community, Harris County is committed to cleaning the air in this region," said Harris County Judge Robert Eckels. "It's cooperative efforts like the Texas 2000 Air Quality Study and technology that will solve our air quality problem. Unrealistic behavior restrictions simply will not work."

Through this study, the participating parties will gain a better understanding of the Gulf Coast's unique and complex interaction of chemical production and meteorological conditions and how these factors affect ozone and particulate matter distribution.

"Then Texas Air Quality 2000 is of profound importance for our nonattainment Region," Mayor Brown said. "The collection and assessment of information pertinent to air quality in this Region will enable development of data driven policy. As the Mayor of Houston, I have prioritized attainment of the ozone standard as the number one public policy issue facing our Region. The Texas 2000 Air Quality Study will enormously enhance and augment our best efforts to date to address the ozone and related air quality challenges to our health and economic vibrancy."

Other leading partners in the study are the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Chemistry Program, NARSTO, a scientific group, the University of Texas at Austin, the Houston Regional Monitoring Network, the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Network and Rice University.

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