Thursday January 29, 2004
Mayor Jerry Abramson today said he is directing the Air Pollution Control District to immediately begin development of a revised environmental compliance plan without bringing back the VET.
Abramson’s announcement was in response to a federal court ruling this afternoon that declared Louisville Metro couldn’t end the VET program without approval from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. A state law adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly mandated the VET’s closing, which Abramson complied with last year.
“This community is between a rock and a hard place,” Abramson said. “We’ve tried to comply with both state and federal law and the will of the people in this community.”
Abramson said he believes that the community’s air quality can be improved and meet federal mandates without “the kind of wholesale, annual vehicle-testing program that we’ve just ended.”
To that end, Abramson said the Air Pollution Control District will file a revised amendment to the State Implementation Plan for how the community will meet federal ozone standards without reinstituting the old VET program. If the federal EPA accepts the revised plan, Abramson said he will ask the federal courts to vacate today’s ruling.
“Don’t jump to the conclusion that today’s ruling automatically means a return of the VET program that we just eliminated,” Abramson said. “It does not.”
In addition, Abramson is asking the recently appointed Air Quality Task Force, which is meeting for the first time on Friday, to come up with alternatives that will improve air quality and satisfy new federal clean-air mandates.
Abramson said other communities across the country have implemented clean-air alternatives that the task force should consider, including:
· Vehicle buyback programs
· Polluter hotlines
· Trip reductions
· Additional industrial efforts such as changing chemical and production methods.
“We are committed to improving air quality and meeting the mandates imposed by the EPA in Washington,” Abramson said. “However, we don’t believe the kind of wholesale, annual vehicle testing program that we’ve just ended is the only solution to achieving those goals.
As a community, we must work to improve the quality of the air we breathe – for our health and for our economic future.”