Friday, March 25, 2011

Tailpipe testing to continue in Larimer and Weld Counties

Residents of Larimer and Weld counties will not get a reprieve from metro Denver-style auto-emissions testing, imposed on the north Front Range last year.

House Bill 1082, sponsored by Rep. Glenn Vaad, R-Mead, and Sens. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, and Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, would have exempted Larimer and Weld residents from the much-unloved testing program—which uses treadmills to screen vehicles—as long as ozone remains below levels deemed harmful. The proposal was killed on a party-line vote in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Energy Committee.

Renfroe told the committee the testing program puts people through unnecessary hoops when the data shows that the counties meet ozone level standards. Measurements taken since the program was expanded to Larimer and Weld counties show compliance with air standards.

“Why would we want to burden our citizens with the cost in time and money for something that they are already in compliance with?” asked Renfroe.

Lundberg said the testing program disproportionally affects those with less income.

“As is often the case with taxes and fees we put on vehicles, it’s a regressive tax on those who can afford it the least,” said Lundberg. “These are dollars that families need for their own needs. If the science isn’t there to show the need, they shouldn’t be paying for the program.”

Speaking in opposition to the bill was Garry Kaufman, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s air pollution control division. Kaufman told the panel that harmful emissions are not necessarily confined to geographical areas.

“This is not just a Denver problem. Ozone is a regional one not a localized one. It affects the whole area not just where the emissions are,” said Kaufman.

Committee chair Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, said she could not support the suspension of the testing in light of the regional nature of air pollution.

“Colorado has significant air-quality challenges and collectively we need to resolve that,” said Schwartz.

Renfroe countered with a more blunt assessment of the issue.

“This is a screwed up program—let’s be honest about this,” said Renfroe.

Via - Colorado News Agency

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