Dear Editor, A letter writer ["Postmarks," Jan. 16] expressed concerns about including vehicle emissions testing in a plan to clean up our region's air. I'd like to address those concerns and clarify some of the technical information presented. While the Clean Air Force is sponsoring ongoing public outreach, elected officials and stakeholder groups throughout Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties crafted the Clean Air Action Plan. The CAAP is part of an agreement that the region entered into with the EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. It allows the region to achieve healthy air at the earliest possible date while maintaining local flexibility in deciding how to do so. The plan adheres to a "fair share" approach. In other words, those who add to the problem should contribute their fair share to the solution. Power plants, large businesses, small businesses, and vehicle owners are all asked to help. It is the combination of efforts that ensures our compliance with federal standards and, more importantly, healthy air for all Central Texans. Our cars and trucks emit 58% of the nitrogen oxide pollution and 20% of the volatile organic compound pollution. Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) reduces NOx and VOC by about 2%. It may not seem like much, but photochemical modeling shows I/M to be one of the most significant emission reduction techniques available to us. The cost of testing is set by the TCEQ, but we anticipate it to be $20 per vehicle. The emissions test is performed at the same time as the annual safety inspection, which costs $12.50. Failing vehicles must be repaired, and a low-income repair assistance program will be available to qualifying vehicle owners. A draft of the plan is available on our Web site at www.cleanairforce.org, and we invite all Central Texans to read the plan and send us their thoughts.
Deanna Altenhoff Executive Director Clean Air Force of Central Texas