EPA rules Matagorda County within air quality guidelines

By adriana_acosta

May 2, 2012 at 12:02 a.m.

Matagorda County residents can breathe a sigh of relief.

The county was not on the 2008 non-attainment designations for the 2008 ozone standards, which were released Tuesday by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA had proposed Matagorda County to be included in the non-attainment status because of its emissions contributed to air quality problems.

"This is a great day for Matagorda County," said Mitch Thames, president of the Bay City Chamber of Commerce. "With the help of our industry partners, we did a tremendous job developing our case and telling our story. The EPA listened to the facts and made the right decision."

Only Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Weller counties were added to the list.

The factors for non-attainment included air quality data, emissions, weather and transportation patters, geography and jurisdictional boundaries.

Making the county non-attainment would have had horrible effects for every person in the county, Thames said.

Costs would have included increases vehicle inspection costs, changing fuels, gas stations changing hoses, industrial upgrades, he said.

Thames and Nate McDonald, Matagorda County judge, met with EPA officials in Washington, D.C., to discuss the proposed non-attainment status.

"Their willingness to listen to the facts of our case and valid and verifiable scientific data proved that the EPA listened to the facts on this issue," said McDonald.

The factors for non-attainment include air quality data, emissions, weather and transportation patterns, geography and jurisdictional boundaries.

McDonald said the next step is to create a task force that will review any possible proposed non-attainment for the county.

Congressman Ron Paul is glad Matagorda County was not added to the list.

"We are glad because it made no sense to include Matagorda County as nonattainment," said Paul.

"With its declining population and no real industrial growth, it made no sense to lump them in with Harrison, Brazoria and Galveston."

Paul said this shows Washington doesn't always know best.

"This shows that Washington doesn't know best, the EPA can't know everything about South Texas. The TCEQ urged the EPA not to list Matagorda County as nonattainment because the TCEQ better understands Texas."



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