BELTON — The Central Texas Council of Governments unveiled a preliminary proposal to expand air quality monitoring throughout the region at the group’s monthly executive committee meeting Thursday.

Although the area is in compliance with state and federal air quality requirements, it never hurts to plan ahead, said Jim Reed, the council’s executive director.

“If we flip that switch and go over the line, we can go to the EPA and say, ‘This is our data and this is the plan we want to implement,’” Reed said.

Bell County has two air quality monitoring stations — one in Temple and one in Killeen — and both are near construction sites. The location of the monitors can affect the data produced, Reed said.

“Without additional data, the EPA can come in and shut down highway construction projects for two or three years while they get the data,” Reed said.

He estimated adding monitoring stations could cost between $350,000 and $500,000, funds CTCOG hopes to receive from a state grant.

“There is funding available, and the council might qualify for funds, but first they have to prove it,” said Andrea Morrow, spokeswoman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

She said TCEQ has no immediate plans to require any additional air quality monitoring stations in the area, but “the council can propose them if they think it’s necessary.”

The EPA also has no plans to require additional data or reclassify the Central Texas region, said Jennah Durant, EPA Region 6 spokeswoman.

She said when the EPA last checked regional air quality in 2008, Central Texas complied with federal regulations.

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