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The fiscal note, which is worth reading in its entirety, indicates a moderate cost to the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan over the next two years with a substantial increase beginning in 2020 as indicated below.
Fiscal Year Probable Savings/(Cost) from Texas Emissions Reduction Plan:
HB 14, if passed, would modify a number of sections of the Health and Safety Code, all of which relate to the Texas emissions reduction plan in some way. (The bill is quite long and only the highlights will be dealt with in this analysis.)
The bill would extend the Texas emissions reduction plan for light-duty motor vehicles until 2023. Specific counties would be added to the county list, namely Bell, McLennan, and Webb. The bill would also introduce a new hydrogen fuel cell incentive program for light-duty vehicles. Incentives would also be doubled (from $2,500 to $5,000) for light-duty motor vehicles powered by natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas.
The bill would also adjust the allocation program which would provide for natural gas fueling stations associated with the clean energy triangle program. Allocations would be doubled from 5% to 10%. Also specified in this section is a requirement that $500,000 from the fund be deposited to the clean air account to supplement funding for air quality planning activities.
Another section of the bill deals with the Texas clean fleet program. The bill increases the amount of time a vehicle must have left as useful life from two years to five years, among other smaller changes. A verification program must be put into place which would be managed by the Texas Department of Environmental Quality. TCEQ would also be required to monitor the alternative fueling program which would establish alternative fueling facilities. Further “strategically placed facilities” would be required.
The bill also modifies the grant regime for the alternative fueling facilities program. Compressed natural gas facilities or liquefied natural gas facilities could receive up to $400,000 in grant money. Facilities which handle both natural gas and liquefied natural gas could receive up to $600,000 in grant money.
Other sections of the bill deal with road vehicle eligibility requirements, criteria required for qualifying vehicles, and other, less notable aspects of the Texas emissions reduction plan regimes.
We take serious issue with the Texas emissions reduction plan, namely the egregious costs, questionable benefits, effective cronyism, and market distorting effects. That said, HB 14 does not create the plan but merely make a series of modifications. A few of these changes are beneficial, namely that vehicles considered for the Texas clean fleet program must have a minimum of five years useful life remaining. Most of the changes though are problematic and only exacerbate the issued with the plan. More money would be spent on crony, boondoggle programs, such as natural gas fueling facilities and hydrogen fuel cells. On the balance, HB 14 is a problematic and expensive bill that makes moves the emissions reduction plan from bad to worse and constitutes a direct subsidy program. For these reasons we oppose the bill.