AUSTIN — Legislation filed by State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) to reform the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday. House Bill 4885, which was passed overwhelmingly at every stage of the legislative process and garnered support from the energy industry leaders as well as environmental groups, will officially go into effect on September 1, 2023.
“HB 4885 is about leveraging emerging technologies to better clean Texas air without harming Texas industry,” Landgraf said. “It’s about improving TERP to keep EPA bureaucrats from over-regulating Texas businesses and workers. This is a win for Texas and I’m thankful to Senator Birdwell, Speaker Phelan, and Governor Abbott for working with me to get this important and timely legislation passed into law.”
TERP is a federally required program administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that provides grants to cut emissions and reduce impacts on the environment in the state’s most polluted regions. If Texas fails to administer the program according to its purpose, there is legitimate concern that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will step in and take it over.
House Bill 4885 revises the initial allocation of money from TERP to allow for more grants for high-demand emissions reducing technologies and requires the TCEQ to establish and administer grants for hydrogen technologies. The changes made by HB 4885 will allow for more grants for operators in upstream and downstream communities.
“This bill is especially important now that the EPA is up to its old tricks again, using out-of-state data to justify an attempt to re-designate the Texas Permian Basin as being in non-attainment for ozone levels,” Landgraf continued. “It’s all hands on deck, including myself as the chair of the Texas House Environmental Regulation Committee, Governor Abbott and Congressman Pfluger, working to talk some sense into the EPA and avoid this action.”
Last month, the EPA renewed its previously tabled plans to indirectly restrict Texas oil and natural gas production through a non-attainment designation of portions of the Texas Permian Basin. In June of 2021, citing data obtained from air quality monitors in New Mexico, the EPA announced its intention to consider redesignating the Texas portion of the Permian Basin as a “non-attainment” area – an area that does not meet the standards of the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). If finalized, this proposal could result in further regulatory burdens on the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin.
“HB 4885 is another arrow in our quiver demonstrating how Texas is prioritizing air and water quality and does not need federal intervention on behalf of the environment. In other words, HB 4885 is a way to keep the federal government out of our backyard,” Landgraf concluded.
The 88th Texas Legislative Session ended on May 29, 2023. Members of the Texas House and Texas Senate are Constitutionally required to meet for a 140-day regular session beginning the second Tuesday in January every odd-numbered year to vote on legislation and pass a balanced state budget. In addition to serving as chairman of the House Environmental Regulation Committee, Landgraf is also a member of the Transportation Committee, House Administration Committee, Redistricting Committee, Select Committee on Community Safety, and the Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety.