Public Citizen and the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan
Dirty air causes health issues for Texans such as asthma in the young and can cause heart attacks and strokes in the elderly. Cleaning up the air not only will save lives but it saves money by reducing emergency room visits and reduces sick time costing business and families productivity and income.
Unhealthy Air Harming Texans
Texans – especially those near the Port of Houston and the ship channel — are breathing worsening toxic particulate matter and unsafe levels of ozone. This toxic air from diesel trucks, port equipment, ships, and chemical/petroleum industries will cause greater harm to the people of Texas if the Texas legislature fails to expand and improve the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) programs. As the population of Texas grows, off-road diesel machines building Texas’s future and the number of trucks driving on our roads will increase.
Now that the Panama Canal has finished its expansion and with the Port of Houston being expanded as well, there will be even more products moved through the port of Houston causing more truck traffic on the roads and more unhealthy air for the residents near the port and near the roads leading into the port.
In 2001 Texas legislature with the encouragement of Public Citizen established the Texas emissions reduction plan (TERP), which has successfully helped reduce emissions from trucks, buses, trains and off-road equipment around the state. However, there is still much more work to be done to make the air safe in and around the Port of Houston and the other areas of the state that do not comply with federal clean air standards. Since 2001, succeeding legislatures have improved parts of TERP programs, but at the same time they have reduced the allocation of funds that could have gotten the job done.
Public Citizen worked with Air Alliance Houston, T.E.J.A.S., and the Coalition of Community Organization at the State Capitol to lead the effort for the continuation of the TERP programs, the restoration of their funding, and to get assurances that these programs would continue to clean up the air around the ports and the rest of Texas. In addition, we are working with the Port of Houston Authority, tenants of the Port, truckers and other equipment operators to ensure that the TERP programs will be effective at cleaning up the air for all the stakeholders.