April 10, 2009
Senate passes clean air bill

This sounds pretty good.

New plants in heavily polluted areas like Houston's Ship Channel could have a harder time getting state permits under a clean air bill tentatively passed Wednesday by the Texas Senate.

Environmental regulators would have to examine the effect of a new facility on the region's overall pollution before granting permits. They also could decide that a company has to close an older plant in the same area or otherwise offset the additional pollution caused by a new plant, said Sen. Kip Averitt, author of the bill.

"We're not just looking at the individual plant all by itself, which is what we do today. We look at all of the effects," said Averitt, R-Waco.

Averitt denied that the bill represents a "cap and trade" system for companies seeking air pollution permits from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

"We're looking at the big picture and if there is a permit that's going to create a problem somewhere, the TCEQ going to be able to say, 'Give us some offsets or a new strategy on how to reduce emissions.'‚ÄČ" Averitt said.

The bill in question is SB16. It still has to pass on third reading before going to the House, but I'm optimistic about its chances. There hasn't been enough done recently by the Lege to improve air quality, so this is a big step forward.

The bill, which also includes rebates for buyers of hybrid vehicles, was tentatively passed on a vote of 22-9. Houston-area Republicans Joan Huffman, Mike Jackson and Dan Patrick voted against the bill.

Not that any of that is a surprise, but it's always good to be reminded who likes pollution around here. I'm glad to see, as Floor Pass makes clear, that Sen. Averitt gets it. Kudos to him for his work on this bill. Postcards has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 10, 2009 to That's our Lege

And Huffman dscribes herself as a "green Republican." We have yet to see any signs of the green part here in Austin.

Posted by: Brown Bess on April 10, 2009 10:55 AM

This is a great bill. Every law that assists in cleaning the air is a step in the right direction.

Posted by: cb on April 11, 2009 7:59 PM
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