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Smog Checks and Air Quality

August 04, 1992

All of us are happy about the reduction in smog over the past 10 years. But your July 22 editorial, "Making a Major Dent in Smog," gives far too much credit to the anti-pollution regulators who have caused so much harm to Southern California's depressed economy.

When air quality does improve, regulators take the credit and push for tougher regulations because they work. When air quality deteriorates, regulators blame the ordinary citizen, especially motorists, and push for tougher regulations because the previous regulations didn't work. During the past 10 years, smog levels have dropped. But our weather patterns have changed at the same time. We've had at least six years of drought. Thanks to volcanic eruptions and massive oil fires in Kuwait, we're actually seeing global cooling (to the dismay of environmentalists trying to warn us of the "greenhouse effect"). There's been depletion of the ozone layer. Since ozone is a major component of smog, why are we surprised that ozone levels in the basin have also been depleted? Our unusual weather deserves more of the credit for the "dent" in smog than smog checks, mandatory car-pooling, and job-destroying antipollution rules.

Now the federal government is planning even tougher regulations that will severely impact the poor, minorities and the unemployed. Will we get any clean air trade-offs for the hardships they will cause? If our weather returns to normal, we'll probably find that smog is back, and only our economy has been eliminated.

THOMAS A. SCHENACH, Huntington Beach

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