It looks like San Antonio's ten year struggle to remain the largest city in the USA still in compliance with federal clean air laws is coming to an end, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
City Council will be told today that the City is expected to be designated as 'marginal non-attainment' as of October 1, effective in February of 2018. The reason is not that our air got dirtier, its because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made the rules stricter, and lowered from 80 to 70 parts per billion of ozone as the new standard. The EPA in effect, moved the goal posts.
The latest air quality monitoring reading was 73 ppb.
The good news, is that 'marginal' non attainment will not lead to the most serious consequences. We won't have to use more expensive cleaner burning gasoline, or undergo California style annual tailpipe emissions tests.
But there will be consequences.
The city is expected to face a greater resistance in processing 'new source permits,' meaning some industrial employers may find it more difficult to expand or locate in the area.
Another potential result of 'marginal non attainment' is 'future transportation projects will be evaluated to ensure they don't cause further harm to air quality.'
That will make is less likely that future highway expansion projects will be built, and more effort will be placed on mass transit options, potentially giving a jump start to light rail.
For the last decade, the region, through its Air Quality Health Alerts and other systems, has attempted to update residents on the nature of the city's ozone problem, and has urged people do everything from carpooling to not buying gasoline before 6PM in an effort to remain in attainment with EPA standards.