Air Quality Update

No Picture

The petrochemical industry of Texas is committed to the health and safety of our workers and our neighboring communities. Our industry is focused on compliance with all emissions standards and operates under a rigorous state and federal regulatory system. Petrochemical facilities invest millions of dollars and workforce hours annually to ensure compliance with all Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Our Industry has a proven track record of transparency and continuous improvement.

The significant reductions in emissions over the last twenty years validate these efforts. In fact, our industry’s investments have dramatically improved air quality along the Texas Gulf Coast while delivering unprecedented economic growth and prosperity for the region.

  • In the greater Houston area, industry has invested more than $10 billion to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from point sources by 80 percent. Houston Regional Monitoring (HRM) is part of the largest and most robust ambient air monitoring system in the United States. HRM data confirms that air quality continues to improve throughout the region. HRM data shows that from 2005 to 2016, the greater Houston area has experienced a 63 percent reduction in highly reactive volatile organic compounds (HRVOCs). Additionally, TCEQ data shows that from 2000 to 2015, ozone levels in the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria nonattainment area have decreased 29 percent since 2000, while the population has increased by 41 percent.[1]
  • In the Golden Triangle, industry leadership in collaboration with TCEQ has also led to dramatic air quality improvement. Total emissions have been reduced by 61 percent for the region, with dramatic reductions in NOx (74 percent) and VOCs (59 percent). As a result, the Golden Triangle has been able to achieve attainment of EPA’s national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for ozone.[2]
  • Overall air quality in Texas has also significantly improved, despite drastic population growth and increased economic development. Actual monitored data in Texas has shown a 28 percent decrease in ozone since 2000, the 13th largest decrease in the United States[3]; a 38 percent decrease in annual nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over the last 15 years[4]; and a 54 percent decrease in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) since 1997[5].

TCEQ also maintains the Air Pollution Watch List (APWL) program to continuously monitor areas with elevated emissions for specific compounds, and coordinates with industry to take corrective action. Since 1996, Texas has achieved significant improvement in air quality, and as a result, TCEQ has eliminated 18 of the 22 areas from the APWL.

Our industry remains committed to continuous improvement in air quality through utilization of cutting-edge technologies, innovations, and best practices. Our member companies have programs in place to minimize emissions beyond regulations. For instance, many of our member companies voluntarily use new technologies such as infrared cameras to detect leaks and other fugitive emissions, or have internal programs and environmental management systems in place such as Responsible Care®[6], to reduce emissions.

[1] TCEQ: Air Quality Successes – Texas Metropolitan Areas, 

[2] ISET Presentation

[3] TCEQ: Air Quality Successes – Criteria Pollutants, 

[4] TCEQ: Air Quality Successes – Air Emissions, 

[5] Id.

[6] American Chemistry Council Responsible Care: