San Antonio close to exceeding federal air quality standards, which could rock local economy

Here's how the economy would be affected, what you can do to help

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Air quality affects all of us, and according to the Texas Department of Transportation, San Antonio is on the verge of breaking the Texas Clean Air Act.

Houston/Galveston, Dallas/Ft. Worth and El Paso have already exceeded the allowed level of air pollutants and are in "non-attainment" status, which means exceeding federal air quality standards.

San Antonio, Austin and Beaumont are all close to non-attainment.

Non-attainment could deplete San Antonio's economy. Last year, the Alamo Area Council of Governments hired a firm to conduct a study.

Here are the results:

1) Stricter regulations for businesses in industries such as mining, utilities, quarry, oil and gas and crematories would be forced to get new permits, which cost up to $250,000 each. That could have a total impact of almost $14 million on Bexar County.

2) Getting those new permits could take up to one year, which would delay many projects, leading to a possible $997 million impact.

3) It could dissuade companies from coming or expanding to San Antonio, which could have an impact of up to $7 billion on Bexar County.

Ways you can help:

  • Check your tire pressure once a month.

  • Avoid putting heavy things in your vehicle. An extra 100 pounds can reduce fuel economy by up to 2 percent.

  • Avoid idling at long lines at drive-thrus.

  • Stop at the click when fueling up. Don't top off your tank. This will help keep fumes from escaping and being absorbed into the air.

  • Avoid aggressive driving, such as accelerating quickly and braking hard, which can increase emissions and lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent around town.

  • Get your gas in the late afternoon or evening. High temperatures heat gas fumes, turning them into ground-level ozone that's bad for the air.

  • Fixing a vehicle that's failed an emissions test or is out of tune will decrease emissions and improve gas mileage an average of 4 percent.

  • Look for motor oil labeled "energy-conserving" that contains friction-reducing additives.

  • Combine errands. Several short trips, each beginning with a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as one longer trip that covers the same distance.

  • Carpool, walk, bike or take public transportation.

  • When it's time for you to buy a vehicle, check out cleaner, low-emission options. Electric and hybrid cars are great alternatives.

  • Drive less on Ozone Action Days, which are determined when ozone conditions could be at unhealthy levels.

For more information about air quality in Texas cities, visit the Drive Clean Texas page.

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