I agree with The Times that, "Southern California in particular must search for every means possible to reduce the amount of ozone and other pollutants escaping into the atmosphere," ("Package of Smog," Editorial, Aug. 31).
According to the President's Council on Environmental Quality, since the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970 the nation's overall air quality has vastly improved. This finding recently was reinforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a periodic assessment of the nation's air quality.
Even though there has been progress, 35 of California's 58 counties continue to violate federal air quality standards governing ozone emissions.
For my part, I have introduced two pieces of legislation which will help reduce the level of ozone and other pollutants in our air.
First, I believe the use of methanol fuel offers the single most important solution to lowering the level of smog caused by combustion engines. If all cars in the Los Angeles basin were removed from the road, it would result in a 22% drop in the level of smog. By comparison, if methanol were burned in all automobiles, the smog level would drop as much as 18%.
Atlantic Richfield Co., in conjunction with the State of California, recently announced it would offer methanol fuel at 25 of its service stations in the Los Angeles area. In addition, Chevron is considering making methanol available at its stations in the San Francisco-Sacramento corridor.
I have introduced legislation to provide incentives to American auto makers to produce "flex" cars, which are capable of burning either gasoline or methanol. In return for manufacturing these vehicles, the auto makers would be allowed to produce more luxury models.
I also have introduced legislation to strengthen the Clean Air Act by transferring jurisdiction for offshore air quality from the Department of Interior to the EPA.
Oil and gas production in California's offshore waters are presently free of many of the Clean Air Act restrictions that apply to onshore industry. This simply does not make sense because offshore emissions are blown ashore by the prevailing winds.
Unfortunately the Clean Air Act has not been modified and strengthened as initially intended by Congress. The reauthorization process has proven to be far more controversial than anticipated. Disagreements on the cause and effect of acid rain and the technologically complicated issue of airborne toxics have caused endless delays in bringing this issue to a vote.
SEN. PETE WILSON