Despite testimony from state Transportation Cabinet officials, state Natural Resources Cabinet and American Lung Association officials on the negative impacts of elimination of the Jefferson County Vehicle Emissions Testing program, the Senate State and Local Government Committee voted to send to the Senate Floor HB 618, which would eliminate the VET program in 2003 and allow its' reinstatement only if Jefferson County is determined to be in non-attainment.
Most troubling in the committee consideration of the bill was the abrupt change of position of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce (so-called Greater Louisville Inc. or GLI), which was represented to the committee by bill sponsor Perry Clark as supporting the bill. The chamber support for the bill eased the way for the committee approval of the bill.
Gordon-Darby, a GLI member company that manages the VET centers, and Rohm & Haas, Ford, GE, and the other major smokestack industries in the county, should ask GLI for a rebate on their membership. Additionally, local government should reevaluate the relationship with GLI on economic development matters. This community and the major industries who made significant reductions in ozone precursors in order to meet attainment goals were ill-served by the apparent GLI endorsement of the bill, since HB 618 will cause a worsening of air quality in this community and will cause a shifting of some and possibly all costs of any further reductions needed to maintain compliance, to the major industries and smaller businesses that are the other sources of ozone precursors in this community.
The bill endorsed by GLI will also interfere with efforts to secure new industries to the region, since while Louisville and surrounding areas may be designated as non-attainment for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), the bill would not allow reinstatement of a VET program in such a case, foreclosing efforts to control PM 2.5 from cars (a major source) and requiring industries to install further controls at greater cost.
Real leadership should mean more than accommodating what is politically expedient at the moment. Judge-Executive Jackson, who triggered the descent of this program down the slippery slope by inviting the state legislature to override local management of the program in order to exempt motorcycles and commuters from the program, and GLI, whose reversal assured smooth passage of the bill, have both done this community, its businesses, its families and its children, a great disservice.
Please call 1-800-372-7181 and leave a message for each state Senator and Senate leaders Senator David Williams and Dan Kelly, to oppose this bill