Are Libertarians the Only Environmentalists Left?

RECEIVED Wed., Jan. 14, 2004

   According to the Clean Air Force, 767 tons of ozone-forming pollutants are released into Central Texas air daily. CAF has proposed a plan to reduce emissions that will become law soon when local counties and cities vote on it. The crown jewel of the plan is mandatory testing of cars and trucks, at $27 a pop, and repair of high emitters, at an average cost of $550.
   CAF says inspection and maintenance will cost $31 million per year, but $50 million is more realistic, not counting the lost hours of the vast majority of owners of clean cars. CAF says that inspection and maintenance will eliminate 7 tons of pollutants. That's less than 1%.
   While emissions are reduced 1%, ozone is only expected to decline by one-half percent. CAF has chosen the most expensive method of ozone reduction acceptable to the EPA. Yet Democrats and Republicans are solidly behind this plan. Probably has something to do with all the money that the manufacturers of inspection and maintenance testing machines spread around the Legislature. Or could it have something to do with protecting big, dirty coal-fired power plants from having to clean up their toxins?
   Either way, it seems traditional allies of the environment have become too fascinated with gadgets and procedures to remember that cleaner air with minimum costs should be the goal.
   Are Libertarians the only environmentalists who still care about clean air?
Wes Benedict
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