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Alternate Fuels

June 18, 1989

Now even President Bush is joining the South Coast Air Quality Management District in trying to force Californians into the use of automobiles burning alternate fuels, on the questionable theory that this will help clean up the air ("Bush to Launch Effort to Reduce Urban Smog," Part I, June 3). Has anybody calculated the effect this plan will have on the minorities and the poor?

Our current vehicle smog inspection program seems designed to force older cars off the road. Smog devices rarely last as long as the car. They plug, they malfunction, they actually break off. And if they do break off, the emission system has been disconnected, and the motorist must pay whatever it costs to replace it and pass inspection.

It is the economically disadvantaged who cannot afford the high price, the high registration fees, and insurance premiums of a new car, and will therefore be driving an older vehicle--until the smog check program forces it off the road.

When the new alcohol-fueled cars are introduced, they will be even more expensive than an ordinary new car, and even further out of the reach of the poor. As a result, residents of low-income areas will be able to travel no farther than the range of an inefficient mass transit system.

Meanwhile, the wealthy, the politicians, and the bureaucrats will continue to enjoy the freedom of a private automobile.

One wonders why minority rights groups, consumer activists, and the news media have not reacted to this discrimination against the poor.

T.A. SCHENACH

Huntington Beach

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