Texas Officials Approve Smog Reduction Plan For Houston
S, Dec. 6 — Texas officials approved a plan today to bring Houston's runaway smog under control by reducing the speed limit on the region's freeways and highways to 55 miles an hour, requiring deep cuts in emissions from refineries and other industrial plants, and eventually banning use of heavy construction equipment during the morning for much of the year.
Houston, which by some measures has overtaken Los Angeles as the smoggiest city in the nation, has been under tremendous pressure to reduce ozone emissions or face sanctions from the federal government. The city is home to many petroleum refineries, and for years it had largely ignored its growing smog problem as an acceptable byproduct of a thriving economy.
Officials at the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, a three-member body that oversees state environmental regulations, called the plan the most significant air quality proposal in Texas history. The measures, which are intended to bring Houston into compliance with federal clean-air standards by 2007, will be submitted to the federal Environmental Protection Agency this month for approval.
One state commissioner, Ralph Marquez, called the plan a "new era of clean air" and said the state "will continue to be as flexible as possible, and we will continue to pursue improved scientific knowledge, but we must get the job done."
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