Supplemental Environmental Program (SEP)

Supplemental Environmental Programs
Supplemental Environmental Projects “SEPs” are projects that benefit the environment. In certain circumstances, an entity alleged to have violated environmental laws or regulations may undertake to perform a SEP as part of the resolution of the matter. The SEP may be undertaken in addition to or in lieu of fines or penalties, or as an offset to fines or penalties. SEPs are typically implemented in the same locale and provide enhancement in the same medium as the alleged environmental violation. SEPs may be part of federal, state or local settlement agreements or orders. The City of Houston maintains a list of projects, which qualify as SEPs, and welcomes the opportunity to discuss these projects with interested parties.

You can find a list of approved City of Houston projects from the TCEQ’s website at They are listed by County.


On-Road Vehicle Remote Sensing Devices, $250,000 - $1 Million

The objective of this project is to reduce the carbon emissions from cars and trucks on Houston roads by educating drivers about vehicular pollution in a manner that may influence their driving, purchasing and vehicle maintenance practices.

Vehicles traverse over 140,000,000 miles in the Houston region each year. This results in an estimated 107,000 tons of CO2 equivalents, according to ICLEI software, which local governments use to measure emissions across sources. Older vehicles and those that are not well-maintained tend to consume more fuel, which means they contribute more pollution per mile driven than newer vehicles. The reduction in miles-per-gallon is costly for drivers / owners. In fact, many vehicle operators are unaware of the kind or volume of emissions from their vehicles, or that the way they maintain their vehicle affects emissions. For low-income owners of older vehicles with excessive emissions, the State of Texas makes available up to $3500 toward the purchase of a newer, lower emission vehicle. Many qualified vehicle owners are, however, unaware of their vehicles' emission profiles, which qualify them for this program, and thus they fail to take advantage of the subsidy.

We propose that Aramco, as the donor, purchase directly from the manufacturer up to four Remote Sensing Devices ("RSDs") to be strategically located along busy Houston area thoroughfares. The RSD's remote sensing technology measures exhaust emissions from vehicles as they are driven on streets and highways. The unit sends infrared and ultraviolet beams across the road and reflects them to a series of detectors. Fuel specific concentrations of hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, and smoke are measured in vehicle exhaust plumes based on their absorption of IR/UV light. During this process, a camera captures an image of the license plate, while the Speed/Acceleration Sensors (S/A) record the speed of each vehicle. The emissions and other related data are transferred electronically to a roadside monitor that flashes the information to the driver as he passes a solar-powered sign ahead of the sensing device. These systems have been used in a number of states for several years now, and data shows that vehicle owners respond positively to the program. I am enclosing a brochure by a distributor of RSDs. You might also want to read the data at, which showcases the work of Donald Stedman, the originator of this technology.

Introduction of RSDs would be accompanied by a campaign to educate the public about their presence, purpose and usefulness to Houstonians and the environment. We would emphasize the ability of qualified vehicle owners to obtain the $3500 subsidy from the state for a new vehicle. While some jurisdictions use these devices to enforce emission control and speeding laws; our intent is to implement RSDs as a public service/public education program that will reduce air pollution.

Tree Planting in the Esplanades of Major Thoroughfares

The objective of this project is to plant 5,020 trees throughout roadway esplanades to obtain the benefits of carbon sequestration and other quality of life enhancements, including aesthetic improvements, increased real estate values, flooding abatement, and heating and cooling.

The total cost of the project over its 40-year lifetime is $3,406,200. This includes $1,040,000 for the purchase, planting, and two years' maintenance of the trees, which we are asking Aramco to fund (5,040 trees @ $200 per tree). The remainder includes watering, pruning and other maintenance over the 40-year life span of the trees, which will be funded by the City of Houston's Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD).

We propose planting the trees in 9 esplanades for total esplanade coverage of approximately 17 miles. This includes 935 trees and 3.75 miles along Beechnut near your headquarters. The esplanades are identified below.

Street Name 

Block Number


Key Map Locations

Distance (miles)






West 43rd

1800 - 6400


452J, 451H,G,F


North Wayside

9400 - 11000


455B, 415X,T


West Bellfort

5900 - 10000


570D,C,B,A, 569D



6200 - 6400





11600 - 12900





8800 - 12800


529M,R,Q,P,N, 530J, 528R


South Dairy-Ashford

2000 - 3200




East Crosstimbers

700 - 2700


453L,M, 454J



6500 - 7500


574G,H,D, 575A







As indicated on the chart below, the economic benefits of this $3.4 million project exceed $14 million over 40 years.

Total tree benefits over 40 years

Aesthetics / Real estate values


NO2, SO2, PM10, O3, VOC offsets


CO2 sequestration


Cooling / Heating


Hydrology / Flood abatement


Total Benefits