"Environmental activists applaud funding increases but wonder why some money is going for road expansion. And why, they ask, is there no focus on environmental justice?"
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is suddenly rolling in money for clean air initiatives under new legislation that gives the commission far greater access to fees and surcharges levied on vehicle transactions for emissions reductions.
But environmental activists decry a deal cut in the legislature in June that allocates 35 percent of the funds under the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) to the Texas Department of Transportation to widen highways for “congestion mitigation.” The activists say building additional lanes is hardly a way to reduce air pollution.
“Texas has a deadly air pollution problem, so it’s unconscionable that the legislature raided the clean air fund,” said Luke Metzger, executive director of the nonprofit Environment Texas, calling the funding grab a violation of public trust.
Environmental activists also said they see little evidence that TCEQ will use its windfall in emissions reduction funds to either focus on so-called environmental justice communities, which have suffered disproportionate health impacts from air pollution, or aggressively promote the purchase of electric vehicles and the construction of EV charging stations, given the state’s deep ties to the oil and gas industry."