88th Legislative Session Brings Changes to TCEQ Programs

Texas lawmakers enacted bills to enhance air quality, invest in modern emissions-reduction technologies, boost plastic recycling, and ensure that Texans have access to water.

This session, lawmakers moved to improve air quality with a new bill addressing the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, which provides grants to eligible public and private entities that seek to make technological investments that reduce emissions. TERP funds were restructured to account for growing environmental demands and modern technologies. Some of these actions included establishing new programs under TERP.

HB 4885 establishes the new Texas Hydrogen Infrastructure, Vehicle, and Equipment, or THIVE program. THIVE aims to help Texans transition to emission-reducing hydrogen technologies. This program provides grants to encourage the adoption of hydrogen-powered vehicles and equipment, and the infrastructure needed to refuel them. Through this bill, lawmakers have created another avenue for public and private entities to more easily invest in vehicles and equipment that will reduce emissions and improve air quality.

The law also expands the New Technology Implementation Grant program to include emissions reductions from downstream oil and gas activities like refining, in addition to its existing grant opportunities to reduce emissions from upstream and midstream oil and gas activities.

Furthermore, this bill increases investment in analysis activities from the Energy Systems Laboratory at the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station to track progress toward emissions reductions across the state.

Improved plastic recycling methods were also addressed in this session. Building off of HB 1953 from the 86th session, the legislature passed HB 3060 to expand and better define plastic pyrolysis activities that are exempt from solid waste authorization requirements. Plastic pyrolysis activities enable plastics to be broken down to create renewable plastics.

Also, this session, lawmakers addressed matters regarding water usage, fees, and safety. Specifically, SB 594 seeks to ensure that public water systems are prepared with enough water and capacity to serve RV parks. The legislation does this by directing the agency to establish criteria for the number of water connections a community needs.

Moreover, the legislature sought to enhance Texas’ response to impacts on our public water supply. HB 3810 requires public water systems to notify TCEQ if they have an unplanned water supply outage or a do-not-use, do-not-consume, or boil water notice. Additionally, this bill increases collaboration with the Texas Division on Emergency Management to issue such notices. These improvements in communication with TDEM will help all Texans get the crucial information they need when water outages and safety notices are issued.

With the exception of HB 3060, all bills go into effect on Sept. 1, 2023. HB 3060 went into effect in late May upon its passage.