Legislative Advocacy

Every two years, the Texas Legislature convenes for a 140-day regular legislative session. During each legislative session, we 

  1. advocate for policies that reduce air pollution and their related health inequities, and 

  2. defend against bills that threaten to roll back the progress achieved to date.

In the interim period, we continue to work with elected officials, allies and community members to inform the upcoming legislative agenda.

87th Legislative Session

Below is a list of bills Air Alliance Houston supports and opposes:

Building Healthy Communities

Concrete Batch Plant Buffer Zones and Permitting

Air and noise pollution from concrete batch plants pose health risks to people residing in nearby neighborhoods. Harris County houses over 150 concrete batch plants, more than any county in Texas, and a number of Houston neighborhoods have multiple facilities in close proximity to residents. With the numbers projected to increase as Houston grows, we must work to protect our communities from the health threats, especially vulnerable groups like children and older adults.

  • HB 50 (Rep. Jarvis Johnson, Dist. 139): This legislation would greatly benefit public health in the city of Houston, by requiring all newly proposed concrete batch plants to be located a minimum of 440 yards away from all residential areas, including homes, schools and places of worship. This legislation subsequently provides a critical foundation for proposals HB56 and HB65 found below.
  • HB 56 (Rep. Jarvis Johnson, Dist. 139): This bill will provide greater protection for communities within Houston by doubling the “buffer zone” between homes and concrete batch patch plants from 440 yards to 880 yards. The legislation will also require facilities to implement additional precautions to reduce their overall dust emissions.
  • HB 65 (Rep. Jarvis Johnson, Dist. 139): This legislation will require new concrete batch plants to provide all residents within 880-yard radius with information regarding the new facility as well as how to properly submit public comments, ensuring communities the opportunity to have their voices heard. 
  • HB 289 (Rep. Nicole Collier, Dist. 95): This legislation will empower communities by allowing all persons who may be affected by a proposed plant to request a public hearing from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
  • HB 416 (Rep. Armando Walle, Dist. 140): This legislation will standardize the required facility layout map concrete batch facilities must submit to TCEQ when applying for a construction permit, including information such as required “buffer zones” and all potential emissions points.

Chemical Safety

Above-ground Chemical Storage Tanks

The design and operation of above-ground storage tanks used for housing petroleum products are currently poorly regulated. Recent disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey, have revealed their vulnerability to failure during storms and flooding, leading to large spills and emissions events. More recently, the ITC and KMCO fires and the Port Neches explosion at TPC have highlighted yet again the lack of adequate performance standards.

  • SB 126 ( Sen. Nathan Johnson, Dist. 16) and HB 711 (Rep. Mary Ann Perez, Dist. 144): These bills would require chemical storage tanks at facilities to be more resilient against natural and industrial disasters. The bills would instruct TCEQ to adopt more stringent standards for tanks in areas vulnerable to extreme weather events. 

Sustainable and Equitable Transportation

Texas Emissions Reductions Plan (TERP)

The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) provides funding to vehicle and equipment upgrades and supports programs to encourage the use of alternative fuels. TERP programs are accepted by the EPA as emissions reductions actions, which is key as the TCEQ estimates 50 to 80% of NOX emissions are due to mobile sources in areas with air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

  • HB 286 (Rep. Philip Cortez, Dist. 117): This legislation will encourage the construction of alternative fueling stations, such as electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, in smaller Texas counties, making the use of EVs more practical and reliable across the state.

Transportation Funding

  • HJR 21 (Rep. Tom Craddick, Dist. 82): We oppose HJR 21 as this legislation would propose a constitutional amendment that would divert state funds, including existing transportation funds, to build out highways and infrastructure to support fossil fuel extraction.

Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice is, according to the EPA, “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” A 1994 Presidential Executive Order directs federal agencies to take steps to identify and address disproportionate environmental or health impacts on minority and low-income populations. However, at the federal, state, and local level there is no clear definition of what an environmental justice community is, which weakens potential implementation of the executive order. Meanwhile, a large body of literature and data show that race is the best predictor of how close you live to air pollution, including research based in Houston by Dr. Robert Bullard.

  • HB 202 (Rep. Shawn Thierry, Dist. 146): This Legislation would rename the Office of Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities to the Office of Health Equity and continue their work addressing systemic health inequality and finding solutions to the health disparities that exist across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic lines in Texas.
  • HB 714 (Rep. Ron Reynolds, Dist. 37): This legislation will establish a Texas Environmental Justice Advisory Council and an Environmental Justice Review Board to help ensure the fair treatment of Texans regardless of race, class or creed. It will be the Council’s responsibility to review state programs, environmental permits, and community petitions, and subsequently advise government officials on environmental justice issues.
  • SB 87 (Senator Borris Miles. Dist. 13): This legislation will better protect public health by requiring TCEQ to consider the cumulative impacts to public health of emissions by taking into account the total impact of all facilities within a 3-mile radius in permit applications.
  • SB 108 (Senator Royce West, Dist. 23): This legislation would create a legal mechanism that would allow Texas lawmakers to better determine whether new legislation positively or negatively affects childhood racial disparities. Per request of the LT.-Gov or Speaker of the Texas HOR, state agencies potentially affected by new legislation are required to create a report assessing the legislation’s impact on childhood racial disparity, in an effort to create a more equitable Texas.

Other Air Quality Related Bills of Interest

Air filtration standards

  • HB 351 (Rep. Talarico James, Dist. 52): This legislation will help better protect children across Texas, by requiring child care facilities, including public and private schools, to meet the 2012 air filtration standards set by the National Air Filtration Association. Additionally, this legislation will require routine testing to ensure that these standards are met as well as making the test results easily available to the public.

Publication of environmental violations

  • HB 355 (Rep. Ray Lopez, Dist.125): This legislation will better protect public health by publicizing environmental violations that cause “…hazard or potential hazard created to the health or safety of the public.” This legislation would require the notification of State Reps and State Senators whose constituents were affected as well as ensuring those constituents have the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the subsequent “proposed order or agreement,” by providing the information on how to properly submit their public comments. 

Flaring and venting

  • HB 896 and HB 897 (Rep. Ron Reynolds, Dist. 37): These bills would restrict the health and climate-harming natural gas flaring and venting through the development of new state standards that limit the practices (HB 869) and further study of existing and potential regulations (HB 897).

Renewable energy transition

  • SB 170 (Senator Cesar Blanco, Dist. 29): This legislation asks the Public Utility Commission to study the opportunities, challenges and strategies for transitioning Texas to 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

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Want to see how your elected officials voted on air quality during the 86th legislative session?

Check our Legislative Score Card