Rick Perry on Tuesday ordered the Texas Department of Transportation
to use clean diesel in its Houston-area fleet in an apparent
effort to bolster the case for repealing the unpopular 55 mph
speed limit, the Houston Chronicle reported.
emulsified diesel in 75 percent of the department's Houston
vehicles could result in significant reductions in emissions
of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, the paper said. In turn, those
reductions may be enough to allow state environmental officials
to suspend the 55 mph limit for cars and light trucks, an unpopular
provision in the federal clean air plan for ozone by 2007. Trucks
that weigh more than 10,000 pounds will still have to abide
by the 55 mph limit.
announced by Perry and transportation officials provides the
Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission with the flexibility
it needs to tinker with the plan, the governor said.
is absolutely shocking that the Texas Natural Resource Conservation
Commission would actually consider a measure that would make
Houston highways more dangerous to avoid public pressure over
environmental regulations," said Todd Spencer, vice president,
the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. "In
terms of highway safety, the very last thing public officials
should be advocating is setting different speed limits for different
classes of vehicles using the same roads.
will always be safest when all vehicles are traveling at the
same speed. This reality has been confirmed numerous times over
the past three decades."
said a study done by the Center for Transportation Research
at the University of Austin found that having trucks travel
as little as 5 mph slower than cars nearly doubles the likelihood
of a crash. And an increase in the speed variance between cars
and trucks to 15 mph (as is being proposed) increases the likelihood
of a highway crash by a factor of nine, the study said.
the governor would like it if more agencies, such as school
districts, county governments, city governments and public transportation
entities can be persuaded to follow suit. He said reductions
of as much as 20 tons per day of nitrogen oxide emissions could
be feasible by 2007 if this were to happen. The department will
monitor the program, which aims to have the entire fleet in
the Houston-Beaumont region on clean diesel by November.
local environmental officials may have a real hot potato on
their hands for now, the responsible solution is not to turn
trucks into rolling roadblocks on metropolitan highways,"
Larsen, senior editor