The Dallas County Medical Society filed a petition with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Wednesday, asking the agency to adopt rules to reduce the pollution from three coal-fired power plants contributing to high ozone levels across Dallas-Fort Worth and East Texas. DCMS and the Texas Medical Association previously sponsored a study by Rice University environmental engineering scientist Daniel Cohan to review all the scientific information about ozone pollution in North Texas and identify ways to reduce ozone levels without compromising the state’s energy grid or jobs.
“Evidence is overwhelming that our high ozone levels are causing increasing numbers of area children to develop asthma, and are contributing to the many asthma attacks, chronic lung disease exacerbations, and heart attacks we see every day in our emergency rooms, clinics and hospitals,” Dr. Robert Haley, a Dallas internist and epidemiologist, said in a statement. “A large body of medical research shows that more people of all ages develop respiratory illnesses and die prematurely in cities with high ozone levels, and we have among the highest ozone levels in the country.”
Cohen’s report identified the plants—Big Brown near Fairfield, Martin Lake near Longview, and Monticello near Mount Pleasant—and found that they have never been required to meet current emission limits, according to DCMS president Dr. Cynthia Sherry. The petition asks that the TCEQ require these plants to meet the same low-emission levels for ozone-forming gasses that are required of newer plants.
The plants are owned by Energy Future Holdings, which is facing bankruptcy. The plants are likely to change hands soon.