Monday March 1, 2004
A brief filed today by Louisville Metro Government asks a U.S. Federal District Court judge to consider a recently amended plan for meeting federal air quality mandates as an alternative to reinstituting the now-defunct Vehicle Emissions Testing program.
The brief, which is part of a lawsuit filed by advocates seeking to bring back the VET, also responds to U.S. District Judge John Heyburn’s order to provide a timeline for reinstituting the VET.
The amended State Implementation Plan, submitted last month after meetings with federal Environmental Protection Agency officials in Atlanta, proposes using air-quality credits resulting from recent emission reductions by local companies in lieu of the VET. Those efforts represent twice the number of air-quality credits as the VET. The emissions reductions come from improvements made by LG&E at its Mill Creek and Cane Run facilities, changes in processing by Kosmos Cement and stricter regulations on chemicals used in cleaning manufacturing equipment. The state Environmental Protection Cabinet late last week endorsed the amended State Implementation Plan.
If the judge orders the VET program to be reinstituted using the former contractor, Air
Pollution Control District officials say it will take several months to negotiate a contract and then get the people and equipment in place to restart the program. The brief, however, argues that the program should be competitively re-bid, rather than negotiated solely with the VET’s former contractor, Gordon-Darby, Inc.
The brief also contends that more time is needed to determine how new, more stringent federal air-quality standards will impact the community. Currently, the EPA requires Louisville to comply with a 1-hour ozone attainment standard. The new standard will require 8 hours.
However, the EPA has not issued the new standard, so it is unclear what steps or programs will have to be put in place to meet the new requirements.
Earlier this year, Mayor Jerry Abramson convened an air-quality task force -- composed of representatives from business, environmental interests and regional governments – to examine how Louisville will meet the new, 8-hour standard when it is issued.
Abramson has said the new, more stringent standards may require the air-quality task force to consider additional measures that, among other steps, could include vehicle buyback programs, polluter hotlines, trip reductions and additional efforts by industry.