Move over Los Angeles, the city of Houston, Texas is now also officially on the "severe smog problem" list. The reclassification was requested by Governor Rick Perry last year and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made the change last Thursday. This move from "moderate" bypasses the level of "serious" and gives the state an additional nine years to meet federal health standards that were originally set in 1997. They were supposed to meet the goal by 2010. Although the 1997 levels are now no longer deemed safe, EPA spokesperson Catherine Milbourn said progress towards that original goal will help protect people and help the area move closer to today's requirements. We not sure how making a classification change and a nine-year extension counts as progress but it seems that the regional business association, the "Greater Houston Partnership," is down with the decision. Their spokesperson said, "The partnership believes that improvement in air quality is important in order to maintain a robust, viable economic climate and to improve public health in the region." Huh? It sounds like a lot of talking and not much doing. The Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention (GHASP) agrees. Their executive director, Matthew Tejada, said of the decision, "We've just done a bureaucratic dance, and we're not any closer to clean air."

Its not only Houston residents that are responsible for the problem. The area is home to many oil refineries that handle product bound for markets throughout the South of the country. While the region has taken some steps to improve the air quality, we all can help out by reducing our personal petroleum usage.

[Source: Associated Press]

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