Contractors urged to take part in emissions reduction program

Dallas-area contractors and construction companies were urged Thursday to participate in the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, a plan that will award $150 million in grants through next August to help companies replace older diesel-powered construction equipment and retrofit aging engines with pollution controls to reduce emissions.

Officials have warned contractors to take part in the voluntary program before it is replaced by federal mandates.

“There will be a lot of things that will not be voluntary if we don’t get out there and do something,” Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher told the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Because the Dallas-Fort Worth area does not meet federal ozone standards, local leaders are trying to avoid severe penalties, such as the loss of millions of dollars in federal highway transportation funds.

The Texas Legislature created the TERP program in 2001 to help reduce air pollution by influencing owner-operators to purchase newer, cleaner equipment or to retrofit their older machines. Under the plan, owner/operators in 38 Texas counties can apply for a grant that will pay the difference in price for a buyer to purchase a piece of equipment with cleaner emission standard rather than one that meets the current requirements. The plan was a reaction to controversy over harsher proposed restrictions on replacing older equipment in 2000.

The application process is becoming more streamlined to make it easier for program participants. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which administers the TERP program, said applications will not be accepted again until November.