Governor Directs TxDOT to Start Using Cleaner Diesel Fuel in Houston District Fleet
HOUSTON – Gov. Rick Perry today directed the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to immediately begin using cleaner diesel fuel in 75 percent of its Houston district fleet to help improve air quality in Southeast Texas.
The directive is one of a series of moves outlined by the governor to strengthen the state’s plan to bring the Houston region into compliance with federal ozone standards by 2007.
“With these steps, I am confident that Texas will continue to improve the health and quality of life of all Texans, protect our highway transportation projects and ensure continued economic vitality,” Perry said.
The governor also directed TxDOT to establish rules by January stipulating all contractors working on Southeast Texas projects to use cleaner burning emulsified diesel fuel in off-road equipment.
Perry said switching to emulsified diesel fuel would remove about 5.8 tons of nitrogen oxide, a major component of air pollution, from the air each day. That would amount to a reduction in emissions of at least 19 percent.
“Emulsified diesel will cost more initially,” Perry said. “But the cost of these actions is small compared to the cost of increased health care, delayed transportation improvements and restricted economic growth.”
Perry said the actions were developed after he asked his staff, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation to examine ways to improve air quality in Southeast Texas and other urban areas in the state. Other actions announced by Perry include:
- Requiring TxDOT to develop a plan to convert as much of its fleet as is practical to zero emissions systems, such as gas-electric hybrid vehicles and compressed natural gas, and purchase off-road equipment with the lowest emission engines available.
- Urging cities, counties, school districts and transit authorities to adopt the new guidelines set out for TxDOT. The governor also directed TxDOT to collect data about the cost, emissions and efficiency of using emulsified diesel fuel versus fuels used by the rest of the TxDOT fleet and provide that information to local officials in urban areas.
- Directing TxDOT to develop a financial assistance package to help local governments start using cleaner diesel fuels, convert to more efficient engines and purchase emissions efficient equipment. TxDOT will use federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funds to pay for the program.
“If everyone cooperates, we could remove at least an additional 12 tons of nitrogen oxide daily from the air in Southeast Texas,” Perry said. “Such efforts not only will mean healthier Texans but will also give the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission more flexibility to address less effective means of meeting air quality standards.”
The governor also directed TxDOT to form an air quality work group that includes local, state and federal officials to identify and implement additional actions to improve air quality.
“I need citizens, community leaders and corporate executives to understand both the serious challenge we face and the cost of failure,” Perry said. “Failing to meet clean air standards will not only undermine public health, it could halt all our highway construction in the Houston area.”
Air pollution poses a threat to people with respiratory problems and can worsen heart disease, lung cancer and asthma. Texas also could face the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for transportation projects if the state fails to meet the 2007 deadline for achieving compliance with federal ozone standards.
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