AUSTIN — Governor Greg Abbott today vetoed funding for two crucial programs for reducing air pollution in the state. “This veto is penny wise and pound foolish,” said Brian Zabcik, the Clean Air & Clean Water Advocate at Environment Texas. “It sacrifices the long-term health of all Texans for an imagined financial gain.”
The governor’s veto wipes out funding for the LIRAP program, which enables low-income Texans to repair or replace their high-emission vehicles, and the Local Initiatives Program, which helps Texas cities comply with federal air quality requirements. The current LIP appropriation was targeted for the Austin, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Granbury, Killeen-Temple, Longview-Tyler-Marshall, San Antonio, Victoria, and Waco metropolitan areas.
These programs are critical to protecting the health of Texas families. For example, LIRAP has been shown to help cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 70 percent. A study by MIT has found that approximately 12,000 Texans die each year from illnesses caused by air pollution. By not funding LIRAP and LIP, Governor Abbott is ensuring that the state will see higher medical costs in coming years.
Funds for both programs are collected from the residents of counties that fail to meet federal requirements, and are held in a Clean Air Account that can only be used for designated purposes. Zabcik said, “The fact that this money can’t be used for anything else makes the governor’s veto even more pointless.”
Environment Texas advocates for clean air, clean water, and preservation of Texas’ natural areas on behalf of approximately 5,000 members statewide.