Howdy! I hope all who reads this is doing well. My name is John Gonzalez and I am currently working as an Environmental Planner with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ. The TCEQ is one of the largest environmental regulatory agencies in the world. Being so large, there are many departments that all focus on different aspects of environmental management. At the TCEQ we have all types of scientists ranging from air, water, and soil. We also have lawyers, accountants, HR, and every other type of career you might think of.
My job, as an Environmental Planner, is to specifically work with our Texas Emissions Reduction Program, or TERP. (Get ready, there is a lot of acronyms in our field). TERP is a financial incentives program that seeks to reduce NOx emissions in the air. NOx emissions have a range of detrimental effects on our climate, ecosystems, and public health.
What makes this program so unique is our “Carrot vs Stick” approach to environmental regulation. A common view in environmental regulation is that of restriction/taxation. For instance, you can’t pollute over this amount or we will fine you, or if you want to pollute a certain amount, you have to pay a certain amount. Our program, though, provides grants to individuals, businesses, and cities to destroy their old equipment and buy newer, cleaner equipment. (Hence, us using incentives to produce change, rather than consequence). The destruction of the old equipment is crucial, because one of the main ideas is that this equipment can’t be used again to pollute. This newer equipment would ideally be used in lieu of the older equipment, and reduces the amount of emissions that would be released, while also stimulating the Texas economy by helping local Texans secure this equipment to do work that they otherwise would have not been able to afford/buy.
There are many different programs/grants that we offer that range from our standard rebate grants to reduce those huge diesel trucks (18 wheelers), to replacing School Buses, to marine vessels and stationary equipment. In order to be financially viable, we also only operate in certain counties (depending on the grant). Some highlights (from the fiscal year 2016) include the replacement/upgrade of 17,629 vehicles resulting in a reduction of 171,945 TONS of NOx. We’ve awarded 33 million dollars to the Texas Clean School Bus program since 2005, reducing the emissions of diesel particulate matter substantially.
My day to day ranges from monitoring the usage, disposition, and management of these grants, as well as actively engaging with various stakeholders ranging from the grantees, third party vendors, and management.
If you have any questions on the program, or want to hear more about the TCEQ, TERP, or my role here, please feel free to contact me
Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP)
Implementation Grants Team – Monitoring Specialist
Air Quality Division
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality