11 August 2000

On 9 August 2000, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) approved a package of pollution-reduction measures for the Houston-Galveston ozone nonattainment area, along with statewide and Central and East Texas measures, designed to clean up the air and bring the region into compliance with federal clean air standards.

The plan is expected to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 75%, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) by more than 40% in the Houston area. Both NOx and VOCs are ozone precursors.

This action opened a public comment period for the plan which ends September 25. The Commission is expected to finalize the plan on December 6. “These air quality improvement measures are the toughest ever considered in Texas, and some of the toughest ever considered in the nation,” said TNRCC Chairman Robert Huston.

The approved proposals included a range of emission control measures for both stationary and mobile sources. The following are some of the proposals, which are pertinent to engine emissions:

  • A statewide rule requiring the sale of cleaner diesel fuel used in on-road vehicles. The rule also applies to diesel fuel used in off-road vehicles in Central and East Texas, as follows:
    • By 1 May 2002 the fuel will have improved aromatics and cetane (10% aromatics max., 48 cetane min., 500 ppm S max) for all on-highway sales statewide and for all on and off-highway sales in East/Central Texas.
    • By 1 May 2004 sulfur will be reduced to 30 ppm in East/Central Texas for on- and off-road fuel.
    • By 1 May 2006 all on-highway fuel statewide will go to 15 ppm S (equivalent to the proposed federal rule), and off-highway fuel will go to 15 ppm S in East/Central Texas.
  • A rule requiring the sale of clean low-sulfur gasoline throughout Central and East Texas (along and east of Interstate 35 and Interstate 37 corridor) by 2004. This rule includes the Dallas-Fort Worth and Beaumont-Port Arthur ozone nonattainment areas;
  • A more effective vehicle emissions testing program for the eight-county area which will be phased in beginning with Harris County during a three-year period;
  • A ban on the use of heavy-duty construction equipment in the eight counties from 6 a.m. to noon during Daylight Savings Time (April-October), starting in 2005;
  • Rules that require the early retirement and replacement of off-highway diesel equipment in the eight counties starting in December 2004;
  • NOx reduction systems in the eight counties for large trucks, locomotives and marine vessels;
  • A ban on the use of small gasoline-powered lawn care equipment in the eight counties between 6 a.m. and noon during Daylight Savings Time (April-October). The Commission is seeking comment on restricting the ban to commercial equipment, and alternatives to the ban which could include innovative technologies;
  • Speed limit reductions to 55 mph (88 km/h) in the eight-county area. The Commission is seeking comment on alternative five-mph speed limit reductions on highways in Liberty, Chambers and Waller counties. New speed limits would become effective by 1 May 2002.

For more information contact Heather Evans, MC 205, TNRCC, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, TX 78711-3087; fax (512) 239-4808; or by e-mail siprules@tnrcc.state.tx.us.

Download the proposed regulations from TNRCC