Texas Legislature clears clean air compliance bill

| Friday, June 06, 2003

A committee of Texas House and Senate members reached an agreement May 31 on legislation to help bring the state into federal clean air compliance.

The measure’s final version, combined with current funding, would raise about $640 million over the next four years for the Texas Emissions Reduction Program, which would target diesel emissions.

Lawmakers say the proposal awards grants to speed up business’ voluntary retirement of older, higher-polluting diesel equipment, and it also pays for research into clean-air technologies.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has required the Lone Star State to reduce its emissions by 16.3 tons a day in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and 18.9 tons a day in the Houston area by 2007, the Dallas Morning News reported.

If those areas fail to meet the emissions standards, the state could lose millions of dollars in federal highway funds.

The bill would raise the current $13 vehicle title transfer fee to $33 in areas of the state that don’t meet clean-air standards or those that barely avoid the cut. The fee would increase to $28 for the rest of the state.

HB1365 also would increase the surcharge on the sale or lease of off-road diesel equipment from 1 percent to 2 percent.

A Senate proposal to lower the surcharge on the sale or lease of on-road diesel equipment from 2.5 percent to 2 percent, but expand it to newer vehicles, was rejected by House lawmakers.

A proposed 3-cent-a-gallon tax hike on diesel fuel was also dropped from the final version.

The bill now heads to the governor.

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