Up The Air
Clean Air issue now totally nuts
likely will face mandatory auto emissions tests in Bexar County."
Vehicles Main Source of City's Polluted Air
Organized for Good Science
Response to the editorial
Vehicle Emissions Tests proposed for S.A.
The Clean Air Plan
S.A. elected officials' phones and email
AACOG Board contact info
How "poor" you'll have to be to get your car fixed free
with other people's money (their silly LIRAP Program)
questions value of emissions tests
Antonio Exceeds Ozone Limit for 2003
but wait 'til you see these details!
For the second year in a row, San Antonio has exceeded the EPA
8 hr ozone limits of 85ppb for CAMs 58 and 23 in the northwest side of
Proponents of auto emissions testing are hoping that this year illustrates
the need to spend millions of dollars per year to test our cars.
Since you probalably won't hear "the rest of the story" as Paul
Harvey likes to say, here are some important facts about this year's ozone
1. The highest 8hr ozone average occurred at CAM 23 (John Marshall HS),
with a reading of 91ppb. This reading occurred on a Saturday. According
to AACOG (Alamo Area Council of Governments)data, there is an average
of 33% less vehicular emissions on Saturdays. Of the 4 highest days recorded
at CAM 23 this year, two were on Saturday.
2. The highest 8hr ozone average for CAM 58 (Camp Bullis), with a reading
of 89ppb, occurred on a Saturday. Three out of the 4 highest ozone
days for CAM 58 have been during the weekend. Even more amazing, is the
3rd highest reading for CAM 58 was 88ppb and that occurred this past
Sunday. According to AACOG data, vehicle emissions are 48% less on
3. High ozone levels were recorded in Dallas, Houston, Austin, Victoria
and Corpus, this past weekend. In fact, Victoria on Sunday had higher
levels of ozone (95ppb) than San Antonio.
4. During this weekend's event, the difference in ozone reading between
San Antonio and a rural site in Seguin, was 16ppb on Sunday and 21ppb
on Saturday. Using Seguin's readings as "background data" then
82% of the ozone that was recorded in San Antonio on Sunday was transported
into our area and 77% recorded on Saturday.
Cars were not the problem this weekend. Transported pollution from other
parts of the country and naturally occurring volatile organic compounds
from trees were.
Just thought you might want to know....
See for yourself: http://www.tnrcc.state.tx.us/cgi-bin/monops/8hr_4highest
Citizens Organized for Good Science
Folks, as our local-area Clean
Air Plan is being formulated, we keep being told that tailpipe emission
tests should become part of the regular, annual vehicle inspection.
The goal would be to get polluting cars and trucks either fixed, or off
the streets. Tailpipe tests are required in many cities.
I contend they do virtually nothing to improve air quality and exist merely
for one or more of three reasons: To make it look like something is being
done, To raise money for a new bureaucracy, or Because air-quality planners
don't know what they are doing.
Proponents of $40 vehicle inspections say they work. I submit this
as evidence they do not:
issues air pollution report
that since the mid-1990s the nation has made little progress in reducing
ozone. "We can point to no significant ozone improvements other
than a few lucky changes in the weather," he said.
where are the tailpipe tests making a bit of difference?...
Carolina counties get emissions testing
I was doing some research this morning, comparing Houston's ozone season
from last year and this year.
>From March thru May 25th, 2003, Houston ozone monitors have gone over
the 85ppb daily average 57 times. This compares with 7 times last year
at this time. From my understanding, all of the cars in the Houston area
should have now been tested, since they started their emissions testing
program last year.
I'm really impressed with these numbers.... it makes me feel real confident
that we might have 8 times as many high ozone days after testing our cars!
for Good Science
PS: Depending on the month, there are an additional 1-2 monitors this
year in the Houston area, but with a total of over 20 monitoring stations,
the difference is minimal.
PS2: As I have been saying so many times before, high ozone events are
linked to uncontrollable meteorological events that transport outside
ozone, smoke and pollution into our areas.
Mark Langford is on target about Houston's ozone problem. Thus far emission
testing seems to have had no noticeable effect.
It is vital that San Antonians know that emissions from the CPS plants at
Calaveras Lake have pushed San Antonio over the ozone limits on several
occasions. This happened on June 18, 2002, and is documented on the TCEQ
web site. The same thing almost happened again last week.
Shutting down CPS coal burning for 6-8 hours a day when the wind is from
the southeast on potentially bad ozone days just might keep San Antonio
in compliance. It will certainly cause far lower readings at the Marshall
High School and Camp Bullis monitors than testing every car in your city.
This strategy will cost much less than testing cars.
Forrest M. Mims III
Vice-Chairman, Environmental Science Section
Texas Academy of Science
questions value of emissions tests
June 2003, page 24
by Bob Brooks
concern at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding the
value and fairness of state-run inspection/maintenance
(I/M) vehicle emissions testing programs has kicked off an internal
EPA review, with new directions to be announced by late summer.
acknowledged in 1999 that the focus should be taken off the emissions
testing process and instead put on cleaning the air by whatever
method makes the most sense.
director of the EPAs Certification and Compliance Section
in Ann Arbor, MI tells Wards the emissions-reduction gains
attributed to I/M programs are small - and declining annually because
of the annual turnover to new vehicles with more effective emissions-control
the EPA also is increasingly concerned about the cost to repair
older, complex-technology vehicles. State-run I/M programs, whether
using tailpipe testing or data generated by the vehicles onboard
diagnostic (OBD) systems, require owners to have the vehicle repaired
- often at considerable cost - in order to be driven legally.
emissions tests that rely on OBD systems magnify motorist repair
liability by signaling more problems, some of which
are temporary. And older owners, who drive infrequently and seldom
at speeds and loads adequate to clear catalysts from sulfur effects,
are another group disproportionately impacted by emissions testing.
for the Missouri AAA Motor Club says the impact of I/M on lower-income
drivers must be viewed in context with the unfortunate fact that
30 percent to 50 percent of urban motorists dont carry legally
required vehicle insurance, and there is a growing problem of stolen
license plates and registration tags. The spokesman says expensive
repair consequences of I/M programs effectively adds to the number
of vehicles driven illegally.
EPA is now reacting to the situation and shows concern for the social
consequences of expensive emissions-related repairs, states with
emissions-test programs are finding it difficult to adjust.
is Illinois. Its EPA office recently issued a forecast (state implementation
plan) for vehicle pollution reduction. But in a document obtained
by Wards, Illinois SIP does not outline its I/M programs
actual contribution to pollution reduction.
the EPAs latest computer-model estimates (M6) indicate that
in a typical urban area, about 95 percent of vehicle hydrocarbon
reduction can be attributed to ongoing vehicle technology improvements
- and just 5 percent to I/M programs. The data has led one researcher
to label emissions-testing programs as irrelevant.
( Reply to this editorial appears immediately below it )
Vehicles main source of city's polluted air
San Antonio Express-News
Web Posted : 06/28/2003 12:00 AM
When it comes to air quality, San Antonians are like the cartoon
character Pogo. We have met the enemy and he is us.
No matter what decision is made about City Public Service's proposed
coal plant, CPS contributes 3 percent or less to the city's ozone
problem. A staggering 60 percent of this area's air quality problems
come from vehicle emissions.
What can be done to reduce the amount of belching black smoke from
Bexar County has signed an agreement with Comal, Guadalupe and Wilson
counties to reduce ozone pollution.
As of now, vehicle emissions testing is not required in any of those
But unless drivers in the region voluntarily have their vehicles
tested for emissions and repair their cars, the day will soon arrive
when the state's tests will be required. Under the state's plan,
the emissions test adds $10 to $15 to car inspections that now cost
Such measures will be necessary because of the health risks associated
with air pollution. In addition,if the area violates federal anti-pollution
mandates, we face catastrophic losses in federal highway dollars
and restrictions on economic development.
The choice is whether we voluntarily take action to clean our air
or wait for costly mandated solutions from the federal government.
In addition to getting clunkers off the road, other voluntary actions
that can be taken are waiting until after dark to refuel cars; using
cleaner, more expensive fuels; limiting the use of gas-powered lawnmowers
or switching to electric-powered lawnmowers; and encouraging car-pooling.
The problem is the public's love affair with the automobile. The
solution is to make driving cleaner and more efficient.
Response to the above editorial
Citizens Organized for Good Science
I find it highly disturbing
that a newspaper with as large of readership as the Express-News would
publish an editorial called "Vehicles main source of city's polluted
air" without balancing your viewpoint with additional ozone information.
Your editors paint a very inaccurate description of San Antonio's air
quality and it is unfair for people who trust this newspaper to read
Here are a few noteworthy facts on San Antonio's air quality that you
should have addressed in your editorial:
1. San Antonio's air quality rarely goes over the 85ppb. 8 hr. limit as
recently established by the EPA. On a typical year, 97% of the time, our
ozone levels are lower than 85ppb..
2. When our ozone levels go beyond 85ppb., it is due to unusual meteorological
events that are beyond our control. On a typical summer day our ozone
levels are usually below 50ppb. and are only 5-6ppb. higher than rural
ozone monitoring sights to the south and east of San Antonio. High ozone
events always occur when our typical SE winds are modified due to tropical
low pressure systems in the Gulf of Mexico or unusual late spring or summer
cool fronts that switch our winds to the NE, blowing in tree volatile
organic compounds (VOC'S), smoke from distant forest fires and pollution
from outdated, large coal fire plants in the Eastern part of Texas and
the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. When these rare ozone events occur, ozone
coming into our area can already be as high as 85ppb. In fact, during
our high ozone event of September 12-14, in 2002, everyone in San Antonio
could have turned off their cars and all forms of electricity, and we
would have still gone over 85ppb.
3. Your percentages of who causes ozone in San Antonio are very misleading.
You make it sound as if automobiles are causing 60% of the measured ozone
in San Antonio. First, when San Antonio does have high ozone, as much
as 80-90% of the ozone being monitored is coming into our area from outside
our region. That is why our high ozone events are very seldom limited
to just our area. Secondly, you are citing a report from AACOG and CPS
which describes ozone precursors, not actual ozone production. Yes, based
on the 1999 report, when you factor in VOC's and NOx (nitrogen oxides)
production, automobiles contribute 60% and CPS contributes 6%. However,
when you figure only the NOx production (which combines with natural and
unnatural VOC's and UV's from the sun to form ozone), the percentages
are very different. Motor vehicle production of NOx in 1999 was about
46% and point source production (mainly CPS) was 32%. Computer modeling
done in 1997 showed that on a high ozone day, only 18% of the ozone produced
that day was attributed to motor vehicles. Motor vehicle contribution
to ozone is also very difficult to factor. It is impossible to know on
any given day how many vehicles are on the road. Most of our high ozone
days this year have been on weekends, when most people don't commute to
work. During the weekdays, most vehicles are parked from 9am until 5pm
while people are working.
In regards to your eagerness to see San Antonians pay an additional $27
per vehicle for emissions testing, here are some additional facts that
you also forgot to include in your editorial.
1. An estimated 80% of vehicles that will be tested in the San Antonio
area will pass the test. Of the 20% that won't, most of the lower
income people who drive those vehicles will not have the money to fix
the problems. The best case modeling numbers show that based on 1990's
auto emissions rates, there may be only a 2-3ppb reduction in ozone on
high ozone days. Is it economically viable for San Antonio to spend 20-40
million dollars a year for such a slight reduction that is only validated
with computer modeling?
2. Houston has had auto emissions testing for two years now and
their results have been seemingly outrageous when compared with last year,
when very few cars had been tested. In 2002, when only a small percentage
of Houston cars had been tested, their combined ozone violation days for
their regional monitors was 10 readings over 85ppb as of June 11th. This
year, when all of their cars have supposedly been tested, they have had
107 readings where their monitors came in over 85ppb! That means they
have had 10 time more high ozone days with testing, than without!
3. In an article, published in a June 2003 Ward's AutoWorld magazine,
Greg Green, director of the EPA's Vehicle Certification and Compliance
Section, told Ward's that the emissions-reduction gains attributed to
emissions testing programs are small, and declining annually because of
the gradual turnover to new vehicles with more effective emissions control
systems. He also said that the EPA is concerned about the cost to repair
older, complex-technology vehicles. The last paragraph in the article
sites an EPA computer modeling estimate that reveals that 95% of the vehicle
hydrocarbon reduction can be attributed to ongoing technology improvements
and just 5% to I/M programs!
Clean air is very important to San Antonio, but so are "clean facts".
Citizens Organized for Good Science
Brad, if you didn't read
Saturday's Express-News editorial, you sure need
to soon. Some idiot on the editorial staff is quoting "60% of this
area's air quality problems come from vehicle emissions". Does no
one there listen to radio?
To show you how out of touch this person is, he (she) is reporting that
our current charge for Inspections is $25.00. If he had ever really done
this himself, I mean had their car inspected, he would know that the cost
is now $12.50. The extra cost of vehicle emission testing would add about
$28.00 (wow, what a slush fund) to that $12.50, if not more.
They go on to say that "the problem (with our air) is the public's
love affair with the automobile". The PROBLEM is with the EPA and
AACOG bureaucracy creating a problem where there is none, and then suggesting
a "cure" that will do nothing more than "line someone's
With the demise of the San Antonio Light the only way this idiocy can
be challenged is by courageous people like you Brad.
A grateful listener,