State Budget Cuts Could Affect Victoria Air Quality

Victoria Environmental Services Director Darryl Lesak says it was a shock to hear Governor Abbott vetoed $6,000,000 in funding statewide for air quality assessment and planning for near non-attainment cities, including Victoria. Which means the City meets air-quality standards most of the time, but not all of the time. Lesak says the City receives $175,000 a year from this fund.

“Those dollars are spent for air quality research for ground level ozone as well as public outreach and education,” said Lesak.

These budget cuts also affect the air-monitoring stations that sample the air in Victoria. These stations are for the department to see if the air quality meets EPA standards.

“It allows us to understand how that happens where does that come from. Victoria, unfortunately, is in an area that’s 90% of our ozone that we have here is transport. It’s not made in Victoria,” said Lesak.

Lesak says through monitoring and research, the department found the cause of the bad air comes from as far south as Mexico, and as far north as Missouri. No matter which way the wind blows, Victoria gets the air from other big cities.

The budget cuts will affect the way the department can monitor the air in the city, and that could mean health concerns for residents.

“It’s the city’s position that we don’t want to be out of attainment. We have to make sure we stay in attainment, not only for our citizens but for the wealth of the city, when it comes to economic development.The health of the elderly and our children ,and just the well-being of the public,” said Lesak.

Victoria resident Josie Wasson says paying attention to the environment is important, but its not always a priority.

“I know its going to be a problem in the future, and like I said we don’t think about it because we don’t see it directly now. We don’t think about the future, but when it comes it’s going to be like oh my god what did we do,” said Wasson.

While most of the bad air is caused by transport, residents can still have control over what they put in the air.

“It’s those idling cars, it’s the people who continue to try and to put gas into a gas tank , its mowing in the evening, motors that are running, this creates ground ozone,” said Lesak.

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