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Earth Friendly: Victoria's air quality is nothing to sneeze at

By By Kate Garcia
Feb. 20, 2014 at midnight
Updated Feb. 19, 2014 at 8:20 p.m.

Kate Garcia

I was recently giving the first air quality presentation of the year to a small group of about 20. I usually go into just the normal "this is what we do," but it quickly occurred to me that the issue of Victoria's air quality isn't something to be taken lightly. Before I presented to this group, I reworked my presentation to include a few very important documents.

I began with a very brief introduction to the Clean Air Act. The act is a document stating that all areas must be in attainment of a certain air quality scale regarding ozone.

This spurred ozone monitoring in areas all across the U.S., including Victoria, back in the '70s. Now, before we go off on a tangent, let's keep in mind that it takes time to work out all the kinks of new programs, and this particular program was very new as well as a very large undertaking. That being said, Victoria did not meet the standard.

Which brings us to the next very important document, which is called a State Implementation Plan. This is a legal document that is a result of Victoria's ozone levels not meeting standards after the first sampling in the '70s. Currently, the standard we must stay under to remain in attainment is 75 parts per billion.

As of today, Victoria scores in the low 70s.

So as you can see, Victoria's air quality is not something we should take with a grain of salt. If we all work together to do things that keep ozone contributors out of the air, we won't have to implement the processes laid out in the State Implementation Plan.

Now, I have gotten the question of what about the plants and factories. These guys are very heavily regulated in terms of what they can and can't do environmentally. They are required by permits and processes to operate as cleanly as possible.

This brings me to on-road traffic and why it's largely our responsibility to keep ozone contributors low. There is no entity standing behind us regulating that we only drive a certain amount of miles per day or run our engine a certain amount of time a day.

There is not anyone ready to hand us a violation if we mow before 5 p.m. or don't stop at the click when refueling. We pretty much have free will to decide the fate of our air quality.

I thought it was pretty important to let you know why my job even exists. My job is to persuade you to help me keep our air clean in efforts to avoid carrying out the State Implementation Plan.

So while our commercials are fun and light-hearted, there is an actual goal behind them - to convince you that reducing the amount of ozone contributors as much as possible is important.

You can always contact our office if you would like more information about Victoria's air quality program by calling 361-485-3230 or emailing environmentalservices@victoriatx.org.

Kate Garcia is the programs coordinator for the city of Victoria, Environmental Services.

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