Governor Gary Herbert told Cache County officials Wednesday night not to give up yet on seeking an alternative to a vehicle emissions testing program. Such a program is part of a state implementation plan, but Cache County Executive Lynn Lemon told the governor the expensive program would only reduce local air pollution by approximately 5 percent.
Herbert encouraged the county council to continue looking for alternatives while there is still time.
“Whatever the issues are lets discuss them. If we can see a way to go forward with that, that doesn’t jeopardize the rest of the state and have the federal government come in and take over,” said Herbert. “Why would we not want to cooperate with you and find a sensible solution that cleans up the air, which would be our foremost issue and do it in a way that’s least orneriest for the tax payer and for business?”
Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, has also weighed in on the issue. He said it’s frustrating when adjacent Franklin County doesn’t have to have an emissions testing program, but they have a different EPA standard. He said to have to do something just because the federal government says you have to is not a good reason.
“I know the threat is the federal EPA will take over if the state doesn’t handle it and the state has to follow certain rules. The federal government doesn’t have any money either, so when they give us a threat they want to take it over I don’t think they want to take it over either,” Hillyard said. “I think it’s about time we sit down and say ‘yeah we’ve got a problem’, but let’s do something sensible about it.
“Let’s not just do something knee-jerk that the federal government says we need to do knowing full well it will have very little impact on the needs here.”
A public hearing will be held on October 9 to review alternatives submitted by the public. County Council member Craig Petersen, who is also a member of the state’s air quality board, suggested that remote sensing might be used to identify polluting vehicles. Herbert said if there is a way to reach attainment for clean air through another alternative he will be happy to stand up with the county while the alternative project is tested.