The good news is that the Environmental Protection Agency has issued its list of counties that don't meet the agency's standards for fine-particle air pollution, and Harris County is not on that list.
The bad news is that the American Lung Association thinks it damn well should be on the list.
The EPA needs to put Houston and five other cities nationwide on the list, the ALA says.
"This deadly omission puts public health in the following metropolitan areas at considerable risk: Houston, Texas; Augusta, Georgia; Columbus, Georgia; Greenville, South Carolina; and Fairmont, West Virginia," they say. "In addition, EPA left many individual counties off the list despite the impact of emissions from those counties on pollution in metropolitan areas."
Areas placed on the EPA's list have three years to, according to the agency, "develop implementation plans outlining how areas will attain and maintain the standards by reducing air pollutant emissions contributing to fine particle concentrations."
In other words, spend big money trying to get the air cleaner.
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The ALA essentially argues that Houston's air is so bad all the time that it didn't make the list:
The five cities omitted from the EPA's list all showed unhealthy year-round levels of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5. In its list released today, the EPA only identified counties and metropolitan areas that experience unhealthy spikes in particulate matter pollution over the course of a 24-hour period.
So, no spikes, just good, consistent pollution. What's not to like?
-- Richard Connelly