Canyon County Leaders and Ozone

The Statesman has an editorial this morning that is a model of reason. The argument goes like this: The Treasure Valley has chronic pollution problem. Ozone levels have exceeded government standards three years in a row. The federal government will impose a solution if local leaders do nothing.

Some state and local leaders get it and some don’t. Among those that do are Boise Mayor Dave Beiter and Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas.

They recognize that the Treasure Valley has a pollution problem, and the federal government could impose a solution. These local leaders see the advantages of acting swiftly and proactively, taking full advantage of a two-year federal grace period.

Others don’t,

Others aren’t as convinced. Nampa Mayor Tom Dale, for example, doesn’t want to talk about an expanded vehicle emissions testing program until he sees proof that the tests will reduce ozone pollution. “Let’s not just jump to something,” Dale said Monday. “Let’s make sure we’re doing the right thing.”

Unlike Nacolas, Dale’s brand of leadership is to use the anti-scientific stalling tactics of the Canyon County Republican legislators who believe that trees and alfalfa benefit from rising CO2 levels and some are happy to provide it to them in the form of auto exhaust.

Here is the rest of the Statesman editorial:

The right thing is to get moving. Valley ozone pollution has exceeded federal standards for three successive summers. This blue, odorless gas, prevalent during Valley heat waves, can irritate the eyes and the respiratory system. Tailpipe exhausts aren’t the sole source of the chemicals that form ozone – but after studying the issue for more than a year, the Treasure Valley Air Quality Council said Valley vehicles contribute “significantly” to the pollution problem.

All these signs point to the need for expanded testing that identifies the older, dirtier cars that contribute the bulk of the ozone-causing chemicals. Let’s get with the program. Acting as if the science is unproven smacks of foot-dragging.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter is pushing to expand emissions testing by next summer. The same goes for one of Dale’s Canyon County counterparts – Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas. As a member of the Treasure Valley Air Quality Council, Nancolas understands the scope of the problem.

Nancolas realizes, as should Dale, that the clock is ticking. The feds could impose mandatory pollution control measures by 2010, affecting industrial expansion and road construction. Valley leaders could avoid these federal rules if they somehow find local strategies that reduce ozone pollution. Certainly, it’s worth a try – and emissions testing is one piece of the equation.

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