Wednesday October 29, 2003
Mayor Jerry Abramson today said the Vehicle Emissions Testing (VET) program will close Friday, Oct. 31 as mandated by the state legislature last year.
In addition, Abramson announced during a news conference this afternoon that he is forming a Louisville Metro Government Air Quality Task Force – composed of representatives from industry, environmental and health care groups, neighborhoods and members from local, state and federal governments.
The panel, which will be appointed in the next two weeks, will make recommendations for ensuring how the community can meet new, more stringent clean-air standards being mandated by the federal government in Washington.
“As of Friday close of business, the VET program will end,” Abramson said. “But its closure doesn’t mean that our responsibility to improve air quality in this community is ending. In fact, it’s just beginning.”
To that end, Abramson today announced several steps that his administration has taken – and is planning to take – to ensure that the community addresses its “significant air-quality challenges.”
Those steps include:
· The creation of the Louisville Metro Clean Air Task Force, which over the next several months will provide recommendations for a revised State Implementation Plan, the roadmap for how the community will stay in compliance with federal clean-air standards. Louisville Metro meets current clean-air requirements, however, the Environmental Protection Agency has indicated that in the next several months it will finalize new, more stringent standards. The state and Louisville Metro will have to outline how to meet those new standards.
· Meetings with officials from three Rubbertown companies regarding their continued efforts to reduce emissions. Those companies already have reported reductions of 35 to 65 percent of Butadiene – a toxic chemical – since 1990. The companies also are planning to make millions of dollars worth of technology upgrades to further reduce emissions.
· Meetings with LG&E officials to review their plans to continuing reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides and fine particulates from utility plants. The company already meets or surpasses Clean Air requirements, but the LG&E is making plans to further reduce emissions.
· Communication with Cinergy, which operates the Gallagher Plant in Southern Indiana. Gallagher emits four times the pollution for its size as LG&E’s plants. Abramson has discussed with Cinergy ways the plant can be a better community citizen.
· A meeting with the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, which will be set up in the next two weeks, to begin discussing alternatives to meet new clean-air standards.
“We need to look at life after the VET,” Abramson said. “It’s critical to begin the process now by working with the stakeholders in this issue from throughout the community and asking them to work together to help meet this challenge.”