Abbott picks TCEQ to manage Clean Air Act settlement funds

 

Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 4 announced his selection of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) as the lead agency for Texas’ participation in the Environmental Mitigation Trust.

The trust was established in 2016 and early 2017 by the settlement of certain federal Clean Air Act claims against Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche related to the car companies’ use of “defeat devices” to pass emission standard tests. As a participating state, Texas must develop a draft mitigation plan outlining how it would spend its $209 million share of the settlement funds in efforts to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides.

“Our agency looks forward to developing a plan to efficiently administer these funds to help address issues associated with the emission of nitrogen oxides, which leads to ozone formation,” said TCEQ Commissioner Jon Niermann. “We look forward to working with all stakeholders to develop a plan that effectively mitigates the emissions from vehicles that did not meet the emission standards.”

Comments on the use of the settlement funds may be submitted by email to VWsettle@tceq.texas.gov.

Hurricane help is offered

Many citizens who live in “Presidentially Declared Major Disaster Areas” -- like the nearly 50,000 square miles of Texas hit by Hurricane Harvey -- have home loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

And of them, those who are having trouble making mortgage payments were encouraged, in a Dec. 4 announcement by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, to contact their service providers to learn about available resources or call the FHA Resource Center at 800-CALL-FHA.

“While we rebuild, many Texas homeowners are facing a second struggle of returning to work and making mortgage payments. To help these Texans, the General Land Office is proud to team with our disaster recovery partners at HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development] to help those who need help avoiding foreclosure or assistance in financing repairs to damaged homes,” Bush said.

The Federal Housing Administration, an agency within the Department of Housing and Urban Development, insures more than one quarter of home loans in Texas.

Ed Sterling is the director of member services for the Texas Press Association in Austin.... Contact him at 512-477-6755 or edsterling@texaspress.com.