COMPREHENSIVE CLEAN AIR BILL HEARD AT COMMITTEE
|Senator Tommy Williams of the Woodlands presides over Thursday's Local and Uncontested Calendar. This weekly session provides a way to expedite non-controversial bills through the Legislative process.|
(AUSTIN) — Texas would redouble efforts to improve air quality under a bill considered at Thursday's Senate Natural Resources Committee. SB 16, offered by committee Chairman Senator Kip Averitt of Waco, seeks to bring together various state agencies that deal with different aspects of air quality to find new ways to encourage the development greener technologies. It also creates a number of grant programs to increase the use of more energy efficient cars, buildings and appliances. Averitt said in order to deal effectively with air quality issues in the state, all state agencies that have a stake in environmental regulation must work together. "One of the primary things that we would like to start to move toward, is a collaborative effort with our Railroad Commission, our Public Utilities Commission, and our Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, to start working together on some of [these] issues," he said.
SB 16 would direct the Texas Commission Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the state comptroller to develop a grant program to attract new, cleaner energy generation and emissions reduction technology to Texas. It would create a grant program to encourage the purchase of energy efficient appliances, and would promote new, more efficient building standards. It would also offer a $4,000 rebate for Texans that purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Averitt highlighted provisions of the bill that would require state agencies to take an active role in greenhouse emissions standards at the federal level. As one of the nation's top generators of greenhouse gasses, Texas is uniquely affected by federal emission regulations, said Averitt. "Texas has so much to lose in that argument," he said. "It is imperative, in my opinion, that somebody be speaking for our state and helping those folks in Washington, D.C., understand our Texas economy and business, and let them know about the things we're doing here and what ramifications their decisions will have on our state."
TCEQ Commissioner Larry Soward testified that the bill is a good step forward in improving air quality in Texas. "I believe that Senate Bill 16, if enacted, will make further positive strides in our efforts to make our air in Texas cleaner and healthier," he said.
The Senate will reconvene Friday, March 20 at 10 a.m. to read and refer bills to committee, and will meet in regular session Monday, March 23, at 1 p.m.