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Metro Newsroom

Abramson Asks Task Force to Recommend Best Alternatives for Improving Air Quality

Friday January 16, 2004

Mayor Jerry Abramson today asked his newly appointed Air Quality Task Force to recommend alternatives to the now-defunct Vehicle Emissions Testing program that will help Louisville improve air quality and meet stricter Washington mandates.

Abramson directed the panel, which includes business leaders, environmental activists, neighborhood representatives and government officials, to evaluate methods being used in other communities to improve air quality and help meet stricter ozone standards soon to be imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The kind of mandatory, wholesale vehicle emissions testing program that we just eliminated is not the only way to identify and reduce sources of air pollution in the Louisville area,” Abramson said. “I’m asking the Air Quality Task Force, with the help of the Air Pollution Control District staff, to evaluate proven alternatives from other cities and recommend the best options for our community.”

The first meeting of the task force is Jan. 30. Abramson hopes to have recommendations later this year.
In his letter to members, Abramson cited several types of programs in operation in other cities and states that should be evaluated including:

Vehicle buybacks – Illinois, California, Delaware and Phoenix have programs that purchase and scrap older vehicles that are among the worst polluting vehicles on the road.
Polluter hotline – Texas, California and a number of cities have hotlines that allow citizens to report smoke-belching vehicles. Owners of offending vehicles are either encouraged or required to make improvements to meet acceptable emission standards.

Trip reductions – Many large cities have programs designed to reduce the number of people driving to work. Typically, these programs offer incentives to encourage employees to carpool with coworkers or use mass transit, and urge businesses to allow some employees to work from home (telecommuting). The Louisville region has some ridesharing efforts underway that could be expanded.

Additional industrial efforts – Many communities have reduced emissions by convincing industries to change chemicals and production methods, such as using less refined solvents or shifting some production to non-daylight hours. Some Louisville industries have made voluntary improvements in recent years. Abramson also is working to convince Cinergy officials to install additional pollution-reducing equipment or close their electric generating plant in Floyd County, Indiana, which is a significant source of air pollution in Louisville.

Idling controls – Minnesota, Georgia and California have programs to discourage idling trucks and buses, which are significant sources of air pollution. For example, Georgia’s program gives tax credits to truckers who install electric powered heating and cooling equipment so they don’t have to keep their engines running during rest breaks.

Clean fleets – Many state and local governments are setting an example for other community employers with large fleets by purchasing low-emission vehicles, testing and repairing existing vehicles and seeking ways to reduce vehicle usage. Cleaner fuels – Atlanta, Chicago and several California cities have increased availability and usage of ultra low sulphur diesel fuels.

Bus retrofitting – The EPA has a Clean School Bus USA program that recommends retrofitting school bus exhaust systems to reduce air pollution. Some schools have installed electric heating and cooling systems to reduce bus idling.