ELLIS ANNOUNCES CLEAN AIR LEGISLATION FOR UPCOMING SESSION
Senator Rodney Ellis was joined at a press conference today by State Representative Mark Strama and Austin Mayor Will Wynn to announce the filing of a bill that would require cleaner emissions from new cars sold in Texas. Senate Bill 124 would move the state to the California model of car emissions standards, and would seek to reduce the level of pollutants released into the atmosphere by cars and light trucks. " SB 124 will protect Texans from pollution from cars and light trucks, save consumers money at the gas pump, boost our economy, clean up our state's air and make it much healthier to breathe in Texas," said Ellis.
SB 124 would increase restrictions on emissions for a number of pollutants, including carbon dioxide, which many scientists believe is a major contributor to a rising global temperature. It would also increase gas mileage standards and require that a certain percentage of new cars sold in Texas use advanced ecological technologies, such as hybrid engines or hydrogen fuel cells.
Rep. Strama said that the state must concentrate on reducing pollutant levels in order to meet EPA mandates, or major cites like Dallas, Houston and Austin could face sanctions from the federal government, including loss of federal highway funds. It is easier, and cheaper, said Strama, to try and reduce emissions from mobile sources rather than from industrial sources.
While the car-making industry says that new regulations on new cars and light trucks could increase the cost of vehicles by $3000 over the next 10 years, Rep. Strama points to a report from an independent panel of experts that says the increase in cost will stay at or below $1000. He added that this increased cost will be more than accounted for in consumer savings at the gas pump due to increased fuel efficiency.
Senator Ellis said he expects "tremendous" opposition to the bill from the auto manufacturers. In order to bring the bill up for debate before the full Senate, Ellis will need the support of 21 senators, a number he could not reach when he first filed a similar bill in 1991. Ellis remains optimistic, however, because of general support from the public with respect to more environmentally-friendly public policy. "The voters are ahead of us (the legislators). The polling is just off the charts. They get it. They understand it," he said.