Because the air in Cache Valley fell short of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards two years ago the valley is apparently on its way to vehicle emissions testing.
In his report last week to a joint council meeting of County and Logan City officials, Cache County Councilman Craig Peterson presented a SIP (State Improvement Plan) update.
“SIP deals with a particular type of air quality called pm2.5 which is small particles in the air. Two years ago Cache Valley was designated as ‘non-attainment’ meaning that we didn’t meet the standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“So the state was required to produce a SIP, a plan for improvement to meet the standards. The State Division of Air Quality has been working on that for the past two years. They’ve had extensive public comment with meetings here in the valley and they have put together a draft plan and that plan will go to the state air quality board next December for approval.”
Peterson said the plan then goes to the EPA. It will require officials in Cache Valley to make some changes to assure that national air quality standards are met.
“We will begin to measure those by 2014. We will have until 2019 as a final date to meet the standards.”
This is more than simply dealing with vehicle emissions. There are 14 different measures involved in the SIP.
“There is a basic basket of control measures,” said Peterson. “Three of those measures deal with vehicles. Another 11 deal with what is referred to as ‘sources’ and that has to do with things business is doing and that people are doing in their homes.
“The one that the average person will notice the most is one of the three for vehicles. That’s going to be a program of emissions, inspections and maintenance. Under the proposal, Cache Valley residents would have to have their cars tested.”
He said the frequency and the nature of that testing depends on the car they drive. A yearly two-speed idle test will be required of cars made in 1995 or before. Cost is estimated at $20 for the test. Cars newer than 1995 are equipped with on-board diagnostics equipment and plugging into that equipment provides information regarding whether that vehicle is meeting pollution standards.
“If you have a newer car in the first four years you wouldn’t have to have it tested. Then you would have it tested every other year. New vehicles you buy today probably emit one-tenth of the pollution that 1995 cars did when they were new.”
A car that fails the test will be required to be fixed to reduce its pollution and that will be a condition of getting a vehicle registered.
Peterson said Cache Valley’s un-welcomed notoriety for supposedly having the nation’s worst air is just not true.
“There are two other areas of the state, Salt Lake City-Ogden and Provo-Orem that are undergoing the same process and they are going to have a much more difficult time meeting the standards than we are.”