Nine counties make up the The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and are under what is classified as a non-attainment zone for ozone, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA proposed to move DFW’s rating from moderate to serious, where the Metroplex would join six other areas as serious offenders or higher.
Michael Slattery, director of the university’s Institute for Environmental Studies, said the downgrade to serious did not surprise him.
“When it was inevitable that the standards were going to be strengthened even further, we knew pretty much that there was no chance that the Metroplex would stay in attainment,” he said. “In fact, it was also pretty obvious that we would go to another level.”
But Chris Klaus, senior program manager for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said the move to serious was misleading because the data used to make the classification was based on ozone levels from 2007 through 2009; not the summer of 2010, the target date the NCTCOG had in mind.
“What this reclassification means, is it moves our attainment date from 2010 to 2013,” he said. “Then again, it’s the summer of 2013, so that will rely on the summers of “12, “11 and “10.”
To be in attainment, an area must limit the level of ozone, the pollutant that causes smog, in its air to fewer than 85 parts per billion. Klaus said the Metroplex would be at 77 parts per billion by 2012 without deploying any new measures.
“There are no new strategies. It’s basically doing everything that we’ve been doing,” he said. “We just have to maintain and continue to implement the things we’ve been implementing.”
Those things include an attempt to minimize idling cars on the highway, local governments converting city vehicles to hybrids and getting more and more diesel trucks off the road each year, Klaussaid.
“The gloomy news is it’s unlikely that we’re going to hit those targets by 2012,” Slattery said. “…There’s got to be a much broader scale approach to it, in terms of industry and reducing our consumption.”
Some students. like freshman Jeremy Culhane, did not find the level of ozone in the air overly concerning, but said they would if it became much worse.
“Unless the air quality is extremely hazardous to my health, not just mildly hazardous, that’s probably when I would get up and go,” Culhane said.
Slattery said that although students should not lock themselves inside due to the ozone levels in Dallas-Fort Worth, they should be concerned.
“The reality is that the Metroplex does in fact have some of the worst air,” he said. “Certainly not on the scale of Houston or the Los Angeles basin, but it’s poor.”
TCU has tried to do its part in reducing its carbon footprint in recent years, Slattery said. Chancellor Victor Boschini signed the Presidents’ Climate Commitment and new campus buildings are LEED certified, which means they were built with the intention to reduce their impact on environment.
According to the Princeton Review, the university is one of the three greenest campuses in Texas, along with Texas A&M and the University of Houston.
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