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Clearing the Air in Houston: Innovative Strategies for Ozone Control and Air Quality

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Publication Date: May 2008

Publisher(s): Reason Public Policy Institute

Author(s): Lisa Skumatz; Kenneth Green

Topic: Environment (Pollution and environmental degradation)

Type: Report

Coverage: Texas


Under the Clean Air Act, the Houston-Galveston area has been designated a nonattainment area for ozone, a pollutant created by two other types of air pollution: volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

The extent of Houston-Galveston'ss nonattainment suggests that area regulators will have to implement a large number of strategies to reach compliance. But there are many possible pathways that lead to compliance, and the draft State Implementation Plan for Houston-Galveston is peppered with measures that have a history of weak performance and inefficiency.

Conventional regulatory control measures and mandatory behavioral control measures including construction bans, specialized fuel requirements, burdensome inspection programs, traditional permit systems, and other control-based approaches have been shown to lack flexibility, efficiency, and effectiveness, while also igniting social conflict.

Market-oriented strategies, by contrast, allow for flexibility in implementation, provide incentives for cooperation, and help reduce some administrative burdens when compared to conventional approaches. This study describes nearly three-dozen market-oriented or flexible strategies that show promise for assisting the Houston-Galveston area in reaching attainment.