The Texas Legislative Guide was designed and developed by Becca Aaronson, Emily Albracht, Daniel Craigmile, Annie Daniel, Ben Hasson and Ryan Murphy for The Texas Tribune. The Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide concern.
The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan is a landmark air quality initiative created by the Legislature over a decade ago. The idea was to take a portion of motorists' fees and use the money to reduce harmful air emissions from vehicles and equipment through funding repairs or replacements.
Almost $1 billion has been used for that purpose, but hundreds of millions of more dollars have been stockpiled in recent years to artificially balance the state's budget. A similar program for low-income vehicle owners has faced the same fate.
Lawmakers have been divided over what to do about these programs. Some have called for an end to the stockpiling, pointing out Texas needs to keep reducing emissions, especially in light of a potentially stricter ozone standard. Others want to just end the programs altogether and use the extra money for things like roads.
Addressing the emissions reduction plan was considered priority legislation in the House. A measure there would push back the expiration date for the plan, while a Senate proposal would tap funds from the plan to help government agencies overhaul their natural gas vehicle fleets. But legislation faltered at the end of the session as conference committees were unable to settle differences.
Updated: June 10, 2015
- Reforming how groundwater is managed
- Chipping away at environmental regulations
- Dealing with the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan
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