Driving Clean in Texas

January 27th, 2009
“You don’t have to believe in global warming to think that if they’re making cars that are better engineered cars, Texans have the right to drive those cars too.”

State Representative Mark Strama

“If Texas was a separate country, we would be the eighth largest contributor to greenhouse gases in the world…. We are the energy capital of the United States… and we are clearly the No. 1 energy user in the world. So I think it makes it incumbent upon us in Texas to also be leaders in having a greener economy and doing as much as we can to reduce the (amount) of greenhouse emissions going into the air.”

State Senator Rodney Ellis

Sen. Ellis and Rep. Strama yesterday introduced legislation that would require, as of 2012, all new automobiles sold in Texas to meet the strict emissions and fuel efficiency standards set by the state of California.

These bills (SB 119 and its House companion, HB 776), while a long while in the making, were perfectly timed to make news yesterday, after the announcement from the Obama administration in Washington that federal regulators should re-look at allowing California and other states to adopt tougher standards in an effort to clean up our air.

If Texas joins the other states in adopting the higher standards, or if the federal government adopts a single higher standard for all states, it could have a tremendous impact on the poor air quality of Texas. These bills are being supported by TLCV and by our environmental coalition, the Alliance for a Clean Texas, and represent a big step forward for the state of Texas.

Whether or not the feds increase the national standards, Texas should sign on to the California standard, along with the other states that have already done so. Nothing could send a stronger message than for the two largest states in population, Texas and California, to stand together behind clean cars.

Indeed, TLCV’s “Hunt, Fish, Vote” and “Camp, Hike, Vote” bumper stickers look pretty good the bumpers of clean cars. We’d like to see a lot more of them across Texas, especially if those cars are emitting less bad stuff into our air.

What’s not to like about these proposals? The criticism we’ve found so far (in Elise Hu’s story for KVUE) comes from a legislator who doesn’t like ’em just because they are from California:

“I don’t think you’ll ever get them adopted in the state of Texas. And for good reason. I would oppose them anyway, because we don’t want California making the standard for us.”

– State Representative Warren Chisum