The 2018 ozone season ended on November 30, 2018, but the 10-county region designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as moderate nonattainment for the 2008 eight-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone (less than or equal to 75 parts per billion), did not reach attainment by the July 2018 deadline. Therefore, the region is being reclassified to serious nonattainment, and will now have until July 2021 to attain the standard. The EPA also designated Dallas-Fort Worth as marginal nonattainment under the 2015 eight-hour NAAQS with an attainment date of August 2021.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) has several air quality programs in place to improve the region’s air quality and move us into attainment for the pollutant ozone, and many focus on education, development, implementation and enforcement of emissions reduction strategies across the 10-county ozone nonattainment area.
Air North Texas, the region’s clean air public awareness campaign, implements air quality education and outreach efforts each year. In 2018, it hosted the ninth annual Clean Air Action Day on June 22, in which North Texans were asked to do at least one new thing to help improve air quality. More than 1,000 North Texans made commitments to improve air quality.
The agency also encourages businesses, governments and individuals to implement specific clean air strategies when air pollution is forecast to reach unhealthy levels. The Air North Texas campaign offers examples of easy things people can do to help improve air quality, such as carpooling, using mass transit, conserving electricity and more.
The Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Clean Cities Coalition works with local fleets to promote practices and decisions to reduce petroleum consumption and improve air quality. DFW was one of the first regions to be designated as part of the Department of Energy Clean Cities initiative in 1995. The Coalition hosts several events each year, facilitates clean vehicle trainings, provides updates on available funding, has frequent stakeholder-focused meetings and an annual meeting.
The AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Program provides financial assistance to registered vehicle owners to repair or replace vehicles that have failed the state emissions test. The program is offered to residents in nine of the 10 nonattainment counties. Since 2003, the AirCheckTexas program has replaced 36,561 vehicles and repaired 35,003 vehicles.
Engine Off North Texas is a regional initiative dedicated to reducing the impacts associated with the idling of vehicles. Efforts are focused on expanding the adoption of anti-idling ordinances and policies, researching new technologies and promoting idle-reduction campaigns across the region. To date, 28 local governments have adopted the state regulation that limits idling of heavy-duty gasoline and diesel vehicles to five minutes. To further improve effectiveness of this regulation amongst other idle reduction efforts, NCTCOG promotes enforcement measures to local governments and provides outreach materials and technical assistance to cities, counties and fleets that put these idle reduction efforts in place.
The Electric Vehicles North Texas (EVNT) program seeks to increase awareness of the availability and feasibility of EVs in the DFW area and ensure availability of resources needed to support their widespread adoption through collaboration with local governments, businesses and other interested parties. The region has more than 300 locations providing public charging infrastructure. More than 6,700 EVs are registered in NCTCOG counties as of December 2018, accounting for almost 40 percent of all EVs in the state. As the number of EVs in the region increases, EVNT looks for ways to overcome barriers to the adoption and use of this clean vehicle technology. In September, National Drive Electric Week was held at Grapevine Mills Mall and set a North Texas record for the most electric vehicles in one location. 169 electric vehicles and 627 registered attendees came to show their support for the second largest Drive Electric Week event in the nation.
North Texas is growing, with an expected population of 10.7 million by 2040, an increase of 3 million new residents over the next 20 years. More residents mean more homes, and an increased need for water, energy and transportation infrastructure. Conserve North Texas is a regional clearinghouse of resources, tools and case studies related to water, energy and transportation efficiency topics. It is hoped that the general public and private industry, along with the public sector will also find these resources valuable.
For information on these programs and many of the other initiatives being implemented at NCTCOG, visit nctcog.org/trans/air/programs.
For more stories like this read Natural Awakenings Dallas-Ft Worth magazine at NADallas.com