North Texas Daily

Denton’s pollution problem explained by growth, development in the region

Denton’s pollution problem explained by growth, development in the region

Off Mayhill Road in Denton, Texas, the landfill at the ECO-W.E.R.C.S. Resource Recovery Park is where all the solid waste picked up by Denton garbage trucks is collected. Landfills in general are large sources of the greenhouse gas methane from decomposition, but the city of Denton combats this by trapping and transferring some of the gas to an electric power generator system, providing 1.6 megawatts a day of power to the city's power grid. Katie Jenkins

Denton’s pollution problem explained by growth, development in the region
March 27
18:59 2017

The City of Denton and the greater North Texas region has had an issue with pollution for nearly two decades, with air pollution being consistently higher than what is allowed by government regulation. But change may be in the cards.

Data released last year by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality shows Denton has the highest level of ozone (air pollution) in the state, and has had the highest for the past three years. The county itself was listed by the EPA in 2012 as one of 10 “non-attainment” counties in the area. This means these areas have not been meeting the area quality standards set up by the Clean Air Act amendments.

The issue though, spans the North Texas metroplex in general, with the American Lung Association ranking DFW at 7 for most ozone-polluted metropolitan area in 2015.

The Clean Air Act requires cities to stay below 75 parts-per-billion – the method of measurement for ozone. Denton, and most of the North Texas region though, have been consistently around 80 to 85 ppb.

The EPA says ozone pollution can cause health concerns, mainly pertaining to breathing, asthma attacks, coughing and a higher chance of infection in the lungs.

The Dallas Medical Society in 2015 estimated reducing ozone levels in the metroplex could have prevented 165 hospital visits, 350 emergency room visits, 120,000 school absences and 77 deaths from lung and heart disease. Activities that they estimate could have saved North Texas around $500 million.

But why is Denton’s pollution so high?

When trying to figure out why the pollution levels are so high, some believe you need look no further than the industry produced by the region. D-FW is one of the fastest growing areas in the country, and with that means growing business, and as a result, more pollution.

Others, namely officials, claim it is more the weather than anything else. As when emissions are released into the air and it is hot outside, it cooks those emissions.

Other theories though, say while Denton contributes, it may not be entirely on the city’s shoulders. Due to the level of industry that takes place in North Texas, some claim Denton is caught in the middle of other regions’ industry, specifically the Midlothian region, mostly due to their cement plants.

Katherine Barnett, the sustainability and special projects administrator for Sustainable Denton, said it may be a combination.

“All of the above,” Barnett said. “Any of [the emissions] is going to work its way up to Denton based on the weather patterns.”

The disagreement in why it’s happening though has been an issue. While some point to the lost money because of pollution, many, including TCEQ, claim putting restrictions on companies in regards to their emissions would cause more economic loss than low air quality would.

Denton’s Efforts

While Denton has had the particularly unfavorable title of highest level of ozone for the past three years, there is an effort from officials to reduce it. Back in 2012, Sustainable Denton unveiled a plan called “Simply Sustainable,” which was a strategic plan that broke down 30 key strategies on how to cope with pollution, resources, and maintain for the future. They plan to update the project this year, and maintain a score card on their website that shows what they accomplish every year.

“Most of the strategies from the plan are either in process, or they’re an ongoing strategy, or they’re completed,” Barnett said.

Despite thoughts that the natural gas industry may be contributing to these ozone levels, officials have said the new gas plant being built, the “Denton Energy Center” will reduce emission levels. Phil Williams earlier this month said the new plant would help reduce emissions by 74 percent, and gas-usage by 38.

The DEC is also part of a larger plan by Denton Municipal Electric to eventually go from 40 to 70 percent renewable energy by 2019.

“We want to come back and revisit and talk to the community and make sure we’re still on the right track,” Barnett said. “What are our next goals? Let’s raise it up a little bit, and just work forward from there.”

Featured Image: Off Mayhill Road in Denton, Texas, the landfill at the ECO-W.E.R.C.S. Resource Recovery Park is where all the solid waste picked up by Denton garbage trucks is collected. Landfills in general are large sources of the greenhouse gas methane from decomposition, but the city of Denton combats this by trapping and transferring some of the gas to an electric power generator system, providing 1.6 megawatts a day of power to the city’s power grid. Katie Jenkins

About Author

James Norman

James Norman

Related Articles

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Twitter Feed

North Texas Daily @ntdaily
OPINION: American democracy is in danger📝 by @eunice1515h 🖼 by @AlisxnJxneshttps://t.co/V9EZZC6SqO
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
THE DOSE: Netflix’s ‘The Umbrella Academy’ season two is a fantastic follow-up📝 by @tarpwillhttps://t.co/0dpq4RqEYH
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
OPINION: COVID-19’s disproportionate effects on minority communities📝 by @hallo_babyy 🖼 by @pastellivihttps://t.co/WGvltC1n5l
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
NEWS: TAMS students will not return in fall, McConnell Hall used to quarantine students📝 by @IleanaGarnand 🖼 by… https://t.co/URHSsCXIuH
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
OPINION: The case for finding solidarity in the fall📝 by @jasmdhicks 🖼 by @AustinBanzonhttps://t.co/LP2nKFyMB7
h J R

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad

Instagram