Texas, With Mess
The Texas legislature is under pressure to find a way to fund a plan to cut smog in the state’s major urban areas. If the lawmakers can’t come up with the money soon, the U.S. EPA has threatened to reject the plan and take over the state’s pollution-control efforts. That would jeopardize federal highway money, which is contingent on meeting clean air standards. Under the Texas Emissions Reductions Plan, passed by the legislature in 2001, the state is supposed to collect taxes and fees to help offset the cost to businesses of voluntarily replacing old, smog-producing diesel equipment, as well as to provide rebates to private citizens for purchasing clean-running cars. But so far, all the legislature’s attempts to design a system of new taxes and fees have met with failure. To afford the plan, the state needs to provide $188 million over each of the next four years.