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Changes at the AQMD

September 28, 1997

Re "Cloud of Crisis for the AQMD," editorial, Sept. 22:

The race toward clean air is a marathon, not a sprint. The South Coast Air Quality Management District is on a pace to achieve clean air for our region. With persistence and patience, our region will achieve federal clean air health standards before today's infants are eligible to vote.

As AQMD's newly elected chairman, I am determined to do my part to give our smog-fighting program the second wind it needs to win this race. During the recession of the early 1990s the Legislature correctly was concerned about the economy and the impact of regulations on businesses. Our efforts to accommodate business concerns were generally successful. Putting gasoline stations on an honor system to accommodate a reduction in inspectors failed, and the AQMD today is renewing inspections to crack down on violators. But innovative pollution-credit trading programs have given industries new flexibility to find lower-cost ways to reduce emissions and are being copied nationwide. And AQMD initiatives to encourage new technologies, such as zero-pollution solvents, have helped industries reduce emissions and actually save money.

The path to clean air always was strewn with controversy. At every step the AQMD is guided by the dynamic tension between those urging it to go faster and others urging it to slow down. I believe now is the time to step up the pace. If the public agrees, they should let us and their legislators know.

WILLIAM A. BURKE

Chairman, AQMD

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