Amount of Fayette Power Plant's Ozone Pollutants May Have Been Overstated

RECEIVED Tue., Dec. 16, 2003

   I think Vincent May has overstated the figures for ozone-forming pollutant emissions from the Fayette power plant in his recent Postmark ["Postmarks," Dec. 12]. It appears that he included lung-damaging particulate emissions and acid rain producing sulfur dioxide fumes. These are important environmental considerations, but they don't cause ozone.
   The Fayette plant emits 55 tons of nitrogen oxides per day. Although the plant is not in Travis County, the ozone formed from its nitrogen oxide emissions blows into our region, elevating our pollution levels. By comparison, all of the vehicles in the five-county Austin region emit 97 tons of nitrogen oxides per day according to the 1999 emissions inventory. The vehicle emissions for 2003 are probably somewhat lower as a result of the introduction of clean fuel and replacement of older cars with newer ones with better emission controls.
   The Clean Air Force proposes to reduce vehicle nitrogen oxide emissions by 3 tons per day with a burdensome inspection program. If the money spent on this were applied to reducing nitrogen oxide emissions at the Fayette plant, we could achieve much more toward the end of reducing the ozone levels in Central Texas.
   Cities across the country have tried to put off cleaning up dirty coal-fired power plants by trimming other sources, but they have been unable to achieve attainment with EPA air-quality standards. The EPA has ordered Houston to spend billions of dollars to clean up its point sources after six years of vehicle testing that showed zero results. If Austin is to grow and thrive we will have to deal with Fayette. Putting it off is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Michele Messina
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