March 13, 2015
Sen. Kirk Watson has filed legislation to extend the life of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP), which will be an essential tool for communities across the state as tighter federal air quality standards take effect.
TERP offers financial incentives to replace polluting vehicles and equipment in order to improve air quality and allow for continued economic growth. Launched in 2001, the program focuses largely on reducing emissions from mobile sources of pollution in order to comply with federal air quality standards. It has garnered broad support from industry groups and environmental organizations alike.
SB 1619 would bump the TERP expiration date from August 2019 to August 2023 and open up the program to more communities, such as Bell and McLennan counties, where the ozone levels are nearing a critical federal threshold. Businesses, individuals and local governments in the targeted counties become eligible for TERP grants to retire older heavy-duty vehicles for cleaner emitting replacements.
The legislation would also continue incentives to Texans purchasing eligible electric, natural gas or propane-powered vehicles. This program is currently set to expire this year. And businesses in the oil patch would get access to incentive grants to install low-emission compressor engines and reduce oil field flaring.
“TERP has played a pivotal role in reducing air pollution for well over a decade and it will be even more important under the new federal standards,” Watson said. “Failing to meet the air quality standards has serious economic consequences and could eventually threaten federal highway funding. We can use TERP wisely to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
Watson is also working with a coalition of business and environmental interests who share the goal of increasing the funding available through TERP without increasing new taxes or fees. Over the next two years, TERP is expected to collect about $450 million, but the proposed state budget only spends about one-third of that money for its intended programs.
“Using all of the TERP revenue for its intended purpose would be a great investment in Texas’ economy as well as a watershed moment for restoring honesty in our state budgeting practices,” Watson said.