Abbott Signs Bill Protecting Gas-Powered Tools

Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick | Image by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Facebook

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott celebrated on Wednesday his signing of a law that prevents local governments from banning the use of natural gas-powered equipment or utilities.

SB 1017, authored by Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) and sponsored by Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa), was signed into law on May 13. However, Abbott waited until May 17 to share a video of the signing.

“I’m about to sign a law to protect energy choice in Texas,” Abbott said before pausing to affix his signature to the bill.

“No city or county in the state can pass an ordinance that can deny your ability to use things like a gasoline lawn mower, to go to a gasoline station, or to access natural gas for your home or appliances,” he continued.

“I thank @SenatorBirdwell & Rep. @BrooksLandgraf for leading this effort,” Abbott said in an accompanying Tweet.

The law stipulates that a “political subdivision may not adopt or enforce an ordinance, order, regulation, or similar measure that limits access to or use of an energy source or that results in the effective prohibition of infrastructure that is necessary to provide access to a specific energy source.”

Furthermore, “A political subdivision may not adopt or enforce an ordinance, order, regulation, or similar measure that directly prohibits or restricts the use, sale, or lease of an engine based on its fuel source.”

However, the law notes that it does not forbid cities or counties from adopting an ordinance “to encourage, promote, or provide rebates for engines and fuel sources from alternative sources … that does not directly or effectively ban, restrict, or prohibit the use, sale, or lease of an engine based on the engine’s fuel source.”

This portion of SB 1017 seemingly forbids cities like Dallas from instituting a gas-powered lawn equipment ban, potentially killing such an initiative being developed at City Hall.

Dallas’ Environment and Sustainability Committee had been considering a plan to require all private, commercial, and City entities to transition to all-electric devices, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Carlos Evans, the director of the City’s Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability, has previously said that the proposal was being “developed with an understanding of what bills are proceeding on the state side” and noted that “state law trumps municipal law, and so that will definitely impact any plan that’s adopted by the city council.”

The next Environment and Sustainability Committee meeting will not occur until June 6.

The legislation has been applauded by some, with James Quintero of the Texas Public Policy Foundation saying, “Activist city governments are having a very bad session.”

Others, however, have denounced the law. Scott Uhl claimed, “Texas has some of [the] worst ground-level air pollution in the USA. Both my kids had asthma due, in part, to dirty polluted air here in North Texas.”

Gov. Abbott, Uhl alleged, “wants Texan kids not born yet to breath [sic] that dirty air well into the future. Abbott is ‘Pro-Birth’, NOT ‘Pro-Life.'”

Similarly, Michael Boucher Jr., an associate professor at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, said, “The stupidity is just exhausting. Really, this is how you spend your time and our money?”

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