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New Smog-Check Plan Would Be Burdensome

June 27, 1993

* Good work! Your Valley Briefing (June 16) on "Fighting Smog" made an excellent point: The San Fernando Valley has made gradual progress during the last decade toward cleaning up its air.

But we're not by any stretch of the imagination in the clear. Los Angeles as a whole still falls dramatically short of meeting federal clean air standards. That's why the Environmental Protection Agency is requiring California to submit a plan for revamping its lagging vehicle smog inspection program by Nov. 15. If we fail to do so, the state could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal highway funds.

If we want to ensure a brighter and healthier future for Los Angeles and the state of California, we must meet federal clean air goals. But we need to pursue cleaner air in a consumer-friendly and economically sensitive way. Unfortunately, the EPA doesn't seem to understand this. It is pushing California to adopt a new, centralized smog-check program that could both seriously burden consumers and hurt small business.

Under the proposed EPA plan, California would be required to separate its testing and repair facilities, which would force motorists who fail the initial smog inspection to Ping-Pong back and forth between locations. In addition, it would make the state comply with federal law by raising maximum repair fees from a sliding scale of $50-$350 to a flat $450, and it would require new test-only stations to purchase costly and unproven equipment to detect emissions. As a result, the number of smog test stations in Greater Los Angeles would likely plunge--from more than 4,000 to 100 or fewer, according to one state estimate.

We can't afford not to clean up our air. But we also can't afford to adopt an unrealistic smog-check plan that would place unnecessary burdens on our drivers and businesses. I encourage Californians to contact their legislators and participate in the process of drawing up a new smog-inspection proposal. After all, we're the ones who will have to live with the program--not a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington.



Katz is a state assemblyman from Sylmar.

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