Over the past 10 years California has implemented clean-air programs that cut airborne pollutants by as much as 50%, despite a 50% increase in the number of cars and a 65% increase in the number of miles driven. What’s more, the state has managed to establish the nation’s strictest auto-emission standards, and one of the country’s first smog-check systems. So why is it, that after all that experience with cleaning our air, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency thinks it knows best when it comes to implementing a tougher smog-check program?
The answer is: Maybe they haven’t asked enough questions yet.
To meet stricter standards under the Clean Air Act of 1990, the EPA is promoting an enhanced emissions-monitoring program that would include centralized testing sites in metropolitan areas with the worst air-pollution problems.
In California enhanced testing would take place at only about 200 facilities covering the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Orange County metropolitan area, Oxnard-Ventura-Thousand Oaks, San Diego, San Bernardino-Riverside, Bakersfield, Fresno and Sacramento. Currently 7,500 testing sites serve these areas.
For state residents accustomed to the convenience of neighborhood testing sites, a new centralized vision of smog testing is a nightmare. So is the prospect of bouncing back and forth between separate testing and repair sites--an impractical EPA idea.
Let’s face it, with approximately 10 million cars (more than any other state) California needs a touch more flexibility than, say, Rhode Island.