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Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for SB12, As Introduced: a negative impact of ($522,408) through the biennium ending August 31, 2017.
SB 12, if passed, would modify the Government Code (Section 2158.0051) by creating an alternative fuel fleet program. The intent is to encourage state agencies, counties, and municipalities with fleets of over fifteen vehicle to convert their vehicles to those which use alternative fuels. These fuels include, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen fuel cells, fully electric, or electric hybrid vehicles.
In order to comply, parties involved would have to prioritize the purchase of new alternative fuel vehicles and the conversion of existing diesel or conventional gasoline vehicles.
SB 12 would also establish a Governmental Alternative Fuel Fleet Grant Program. Any state agency, county, or municipality would be able to apply to the grant program, provided they maintain a vehicle fleet of over fifteen vehicles, not including those operated by a third party. This grant program would be overseen by the comptroller. Money acquired under the grant program may also be used for the construction of appropriate fueling infrastructure if this infrastructure accompanies the purchase on a new alternative fuel vehicle. Money from the grant program could not be used for credit under state or federal emissions reduction programs.
The bill ends by noting that this section of the code, if passed, would expire on August 1st 2025.
While the ultimate goal of increasing energy efficiency is laudable, we have some concerns about SB 12 with respect to the increased state involvement in promoting specific fuel types as preferential to other fuel types. As a rule, we oppose this type of government involvement in the marketplace. Additionally, when the various types of natural gas vehicles are compared to contemporary gasoline vehicles, in terms of efficiency and emissions, the difference is negligible so the end result of the policy may not result in the desired emissions reductions.
However, there is a larger backdrop against which to consider this policy proposal against. The federal government has been moving quickly and aggressively to impose top-down, one-size-fits-all air quality regulations on Texas. It is widely acknowledged and reported that the current administration in general, and the Environmental Protection Agency in particular, have an agenda to force Texas to bend to their will on far reaching regulatory issues that, if enacted, will do far greater economic damage to this state than would anything proposed by SB 12.
Viewed against that backdrop this legislation is a clear attempt to do just enough in the emissions reduction arena to keep the federal government from achieving its designs for Texas.
Avoiding the economic mess that would be created by the looming federal regulations is an objective greatly to be desired. Our concerns with the underlying provisions of SB 12 remain; yet when we weigh the burden of the federal regulations and economic interventions against the more modest interventions proposed by this legislation the difference is striking. Under these circumstances it is prudent to consider the old maxim that it is unwise to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Due to the conflict this presents within our limited government principle, we are neutral on this legislation.