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New EPA rules could trigger Indiana emission testing

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Drivers across Indiana could be required to have their vehicles undergo emissions testing if new federal Environmental Protection Agency rules set for release this summer are strict enough, a state environmental official said.

Keith Baugues, the assistant commissioner for air quality for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, said the statewide testing might be required if the EPA adopts the strictest new rules being considered for harmful air pollutants, such as ozone, The Times of Munster reported Friday.

The EPA announced in December it was delaying the new rules, drawing criticism from environmental groups.

IDEM spokesman Rob Elstro told The Associated Press on Friday that scenario was a "very outside possibility" and said there is a wide range of possible remedies, depending on how strict the EPA standards are.

He said emissions testing would more likely be considered on a county-by-county basis or in metropolitan areas. He said other possibilities could be tighter emissions for businesses and industries and initiatives to increase carpooling and use of public transportation.

"We tailor the regulations to specific areas, so what works for Indianapolis may not work for Elkhart," Elstro said.

Two counties are watching closely to see what the EPA decides.

Lake and Porter counties have not met air-quality standards for ozone for years and are the only counties in the state that currently require vehicle emissions checks.

Monitors last year showed both counties were below the standard for ozone, and IDEM has asked the EPA to redesignate the counties as attainment zones.

That process is under way, but if the new standards fall lower than the current emissions levels in those counties, both will remain in the nonattainment zone.

Baugues said the entire state could fall to nonattainment for ozone if the EPA chooses the strictest rules.

"We hope if anything the ozone standard would be at the top of that range rather than the bottom of the range," Baugues said.

Baugues says the EPA's decision will have a significant impact on business and the economy.

"That's really what's going to be driving our industry over the next couple of years, all these new standards and how we react to them," he said.

Nicole Kamins, executive director of Save the Dunes, said Baugues missed the point.

"While Save the Dunes understands the complexities and challenges businesses have in adhering to reduced air emissions levels set by U.S. EPA, the standards should be driven by public health as the primary consideration," Kamins said. "For example, if U.S. EPA lowers the ozone emissions level, there will be great benefits to the respiratory health of residents, particularly the elderly and children."

Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental health programs with the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, said he found it "extremely surprising and extremely disappointing" that health issues were not brought up by Baugues.

Elstro said Baugues didn't talk about health issues because he wasn't asked. He said Baugues said at the beginning of his talk that EPA sets the standards and uses health studies to set those.

"We are concerned about making sure we protect human health and we do that using these standards," Elstro said.

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  • car testing
    I see this as a way to force the poorer drivers off the roads and increase car sales for those who can afford to do so. Remember how corrupt the car inspection were
  • Bad Move
    With gas at $4 a gallon, we are NOW going to charge, what, $50 for an inspection "permit" and then $100 to do that inspection, in addition to excise on the plates? That should go over well in this economy. I wonder if the EPA and Al Gore get the proceeds from this farce. If we want to cut pollutants, let's start with the corporate jets first.

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  1. PJ - Mall operators like Simon, and most developers/ land owners, establish individual legal entities for each property to avoid having a problem location sink the ship, or simply structure the note to exclude anything but the property acting as collateral. Usually both. The big banks that lend are big boys that know the risks and aren't mad at Simon for forking over the deed and walking away.

  2. Do any of the East side residence think that Macy, JC Penny's and the other national tenants would have letft the mall if they were making money?? I have read several post about how Simon neglected the property but it sounds like the Eastsiders stopped shopping at the mall even when it was full with all of the national retailers that you want to come back to the mall. I used to work at the Dick's at Washington Square and I know for a fact it's the worst performing Dick's in the Indianapolis market. You better start shopping there before it closes also.

  3. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  4. If you only knew....

  5. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

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