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Legislators Look to Clear Cloud of Vehicle Pollution Over the Capitol

February 14, 2008

Boise, ID – Idaho lawmakers are looking at ways to clear the haze of pollution that seems to be a fixture over the State Capitol, especially this time of year. There's a hearing today on a bill (HB 482) that would let the state require vehicle emissions testing in any area where air pollution threatens to violate key federal standards.

Courtney Washburn with the Idaho Conservation League explains that, while emissions testing has long been required in the Boise area, neighboring towns and counties have refused to participate. Not only is health at risk when pollution levels climb, but Washburn says some federal funding also is at stake. The feds can withhold highway money, and stop some development.

"It's time that the state address the larger picture. Airsheds don't have political boundaries. If Idaho doesn't create its own solutions to address air quality, the federal government will do it for us."

Washburn says the bill doesn't automatically require emissions tests statewide; instead, testing would "kick in" only when air pollution levels head into illegal territory. Critics of the idea argue that such testing is a form of hidden tax and ought to be a decision made locally, not by the state.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - ID