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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – An environmental activist group says a new air quality study should be enough to prompt coal-burning power plants in North Texas to install new air controls and reduce pollution.

According to the Director of Downwinders at Risk, Jim Schermbeck, the study by University of North Texas engineers, uses the same computer model as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

“It’s a brand new weapon,” he said. “It’s a great weapon, because it’s the state’s own information. The industry is going to have a hard time arguing against it, because it’s what’s being used in Austin to plan this whole new air quality with the EPA.”

Schermbeck says the studies show ozone can be reduced in the Dallas-area if Luminant Energy, a Texas electricity provider currently in bankruptcy, was required to update emission controls at several of its plants, before being allowed to sell them.

Luminant director of communication Brad Watson said the study is misleading. “Downwinders at Risk paid $120,000 to a UNT academic, and it would be surprising if that researcher came up with anything but these results that are favorable to what they’re trying to do. They’re on an agenda to close coal plants.”

Watson says coal plants account for only a small fraction of ozone pollution and that most of it comes from car emissions.

Schermbeck said the facts are the facts and and energy providers have no leg to stand on. “What makes this study unique and what gives us immunity from cries of bias or prejudice of any kind is that, this is an exact copy of the state’s model.”

Officials with the TCEQ say new emission controls aren’t necessary to meet air quality goals in North Texas.

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