Texas’ climate priorities: Decarbonizing cement industry, carbon capture

February 16, 2024

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will decarbonize the cement industry, promote carbon capture storage and upgrade electricity transmission lines as part of its vision for reducing climate pollution. The commission is working to be eligible for a $5 billion federal grant program to support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and other harmful air pollutants.

TCEQ and other Texas municipalities have until March 1 to submit a formalized Climate Action Plan to be eligible for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) program. Applications are due by April 1. Supported by the Inflation Reduction Act, the EPA will award between 30 and 115 competitive grants totaling $4.6 billion to support GHG-reduction strategies by states, municipalities, air pollution control agencies and tribes.

Texas cities developing and executing climate change actions include Austin, McAllen, San Antonio, Houston-Galveston Council of Governments, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and El Paso. Notably, El Paso recently signed a design contract Jan. 3 to develop its first formal Climate Action Plan. 

The TCEQ’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants Draft includes modifying industrial equipment to run on hydrogen and electrifying industrial process equipment instead of using fossil fuels. Other Priority Action Plan (PAP) industry measures will address several oil and gas issues, including remediating abandoned wells and reducing gas flaring. Gas flaring occurs when gas stemming from oil production is burned.

PAP electric power steps include promoting nuclear energy with molten salt reactors, using oil and gas infrastructure for geothermal energy and adding grid-scale renewable energy storage. TCEQ’s transportation vision includes adding infrastructure for electric vehicle charging and hydrogen fueling stations and replacing government fleets with zero-emission vehicles.

At a regional level, NCTCOG is working on an Air Quality Improvement Plan (AQIP) to protect public health and the environment in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area. The EPA awarded NCTCOG a $1 million CPRG grant in 2023 to design the plan.

“The DFW AQIP will create a roadmap for the region to improve air quality, protect public health, and reduce impacts of extreme weather events,” according to a post on the NCTCOG website. NCTCOG will post the AQIP draft at close of business day Feb. 16.

The plan includes an inventory of GHG emissions for 16 North Texas counties and a list of funding measures to improve air quality and an analysis of benefits for disadvantaged communities. It also proposes a series of GHG-reduction measures across the transportation, energy, water and agriculture sectors. Examples include retrofitting streetlights with LEDs, enhancing building system efficiencies and expanding sustainable waste collection and management practices.

CPRG awards will range from $2 million to $500 million, separated into five tiers, with $2 billion available for grants ranging between $200 million and $500 million. $1.3 billion will support awards in the $100 million to $199 million range, and $600 million will support grants between $50 million and $99 million.    

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Photo by Vlad Busuioc on Unsplash

Paul Stinson

Paul Stinson has more than 15 years of journalism experience, including a decade covering the legislative and regulatory affairs of Texas, South Africa, and Germany for an affiliate of Bloomberg, L.P. His experience includes covering voting rights and the sectors of environment, energy, labor, healthcare, and taxes. Stinson joined the team in October as a reporter for SPI’s news publications, which include Government Contracting Pipeline, Texas Government Insider, and the newly-launched Government Market News. He is also a Fulbright Scholar to Germany, and an Arthur F. Burns Fellow. He holds a master’s in journalism from Indiana University.   

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