A Texas Original Air Quality Success Story: The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan

In Houston, we are proud of the significant improvements in air quality that we have achieved over the past decade. We made those improvements by reducing ozone-forming emissions like oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in every sector—industry, small business, motor vehicles and heavy-duty equipment. Our air is much cleaner, but challenges remain. Finalization of EPA’s proposed new, lower ozone standard will mean that Texans will have to reduce NOx and other emissions even more. Did you know that Texas has a successful emission reduction plan that helps us meet our air quality goals? It’s called the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, or TERP, and it’s a critical part of our future path to cleaner air.

Did you know that Texas has a successful emission reduction plan that helps us meet our air quality goals?

 

 

TERP provides financial incentives to individuals, businesses, and local governments to reduce emissions from higher polluting vehicles and equipment. Its nine different programs are designed to help reduce emissions from different types of engines by providing grant funding for a portion of the retrofit or replacement costs. The funding comes from a portion of motor vehicle registration fees. This incentive makes it easier for individuals or businesses to justify spending money on the retrofits/replacements to get the emission reductions.

TERP is an important part of Houston’s overall clean air plan for several reasons. First, the Federal Clean Air Act does not allow states to develop standards for motor vehicle engines and fuels. Therefore, states are extremely limited in their authority to regulate emissions from the largest two sources of NOx in Texas—on-road motor vehicles such as cars and trucks and non-road vehicles such as railroad engines and boats.

However, under the Clean Air Act, Texas is allowed to impose “use restriction” types of regulations. Such regulations include mandating carpooling for businesses, speed limit restrictions, or forbidding landscapers and construction workers from using their equipment in the morning hours as options. In the past, these types of use restriction mandates have proven extremely unpopular with the public and some businesses.

In 2001, to address these challenges, the Texas Legislature passed the initial TERP bill. The primary purpose of TERP—to encourage businesses and individuals to replace older, more polluting equipment with new, low-emissions equipment–has been extremely successful. TERP’s second major advantage is that it improves air quality using a voluntary program. The funding incentive allows for a non-mandated cost-effective method of encouraging air quality improvements from replacing these mobile sources. And NOx emission reductions from TERP are more cost-effective than other on-road and non-road strategies that TCEQ has the authority to implement.

TERP’s second major advantage is that it improves air quality using a voluntary program. The funding incentive allows for a non-mandated cost-effective method of encouraging air quality improvements from replacing these mobile sources.

Finally, EPA’s most recent ozone standard proposal identifies another important reason that TERP is an effective program. Their analysis shows that emissions from non-road and on-road source categories are more effective in reducing ozone than reductions from elevated smokestack-type sources in most regions in the country, including Texas. That’s not to say that emission reductions from industrial sources are not important—Houston industry has reduced NOx and high reactive volatile organic compounds (HRVOCs) dramatically over the past decade. But it’s important to balance those emission reductions with reductions from every source category, and TERP helps us do that.

We support the continued funding of TERP and urge the Texas Legislature to ensure that every dollar collected to reduce air pollution from this program is used for that purpose.

TERP will be an increasingly important source of cost-effective NOx reductions over the next decade as Texas works to meet new federal standards. We support the continued funding of TERP and urge the Texas Legislature to ensure that every dollar collected to reduce air pollution from this program is used for that purpose.

Resources:

For More Information on TERP: http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/airquality/terp
Several grant programs are open for new applications now!