HOUSTON (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to
classify the Houston area's smog problem as "severe."
That gives the region an extra nine years to meet federal health
The eight-county Houston region used to be classified as having
a "moderate" smog problem.
The area now joins Los Angeles as the only two places in the
nation with a severe smog problem, according to the EPA.
The Houston area now has until June 2019, instead of 2010, to
meet federal air quality standards.
But the extension is for Houston to meet the 1997 standard on
The EPA no longer considers the 1997 standard safe for public
But agency spokeswoman Catherine Milbourn today said progress
toward that standard will protect the public and bring regions
closer to meeting more stringent rules.
The EPA is required to evaluate progress on the 2008 standard --
in March 2010.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)