Texas has given away funds for clean air to widen highways
A deal made in Texas' last legislative session will send money meant to reduce air pollution from old vehicles to build wider highways, making it even harder for the state to address longstanding environmental injustice.
Aman Azhar writes for Inside Climate News: "Established in 2001, the [Texas Emissions Reduction Program] is funded through fees and surcharges assessed on vehicle purchases, leases, registrations and title transfers, and primarily offers grants to businesses, school districts, local governments and individuals to replace old, dirty diesel engines in cars, trucks and other vehicles with newer, cleaner models to reduce air pollution such as ground-level ozone or 'smog.'"
"The fees and surcharges generate as much as $250 million a year."
But lawmakers this session voted to send 35 percent of that away instead to the Texas Department of Transportation to widen highways. “Texas has a deadly air pollution problem, so it’s unconscionable that the legislature raided the clean air fund,” says Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas.
Dr. Elena Craft, senior director for climate and health at Environmental Defense Fund, explains that that money should have been used by the state "to focus on clean air efforts in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods ... disproportionately affected by air pollution."
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