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Clean Cars Program should be promoted, not repealed

For years, Arizona was touted as a good place to move for asthmatics and others who suffer from respiratory illnesses. Unfortunately that is no longer the case.

If Gov. Jan Brewer and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) get their way and repeal the Clean Cars Program, we will be even farther away from the clean air and public health benefits that brought many people to our state.

The Clean Cars Program limits health-damaging pollution from automobiles by establishing fleet-wide limits on tailpipe emissions and by requiring the sale of advanced-technology vehicles such as hybrids that produce even less emissions. Cleaner cars not only reduce air pollution and decrease adverse public health impacts, but they also save consumers money at the gas pump. It is no wonder that Arizonans overwhelmingly supported bringing the Clean Cars Program to Arizona.

Recently, in the American Lung Association of Arizona’s State of the Air report, Gila, Maricopa, Pinal and Yuma counties all received an “F” for ozone pollution. Ozone is one of the most harmful byproducts of automobile emissions and puts people at risk for premature death, coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks, decreased lung function, respiratory infection, lung inflammation and worsened lung diseases.

Clearly, we need to do everything we reasonably can to reduce automobile emissions. Under ADEQ’s leadership, Arizona and 13 other states — over a third of the U.S. market — adopted the Clean Cars Program which helped lead to national policy. Now, Brewer and ADEQ argue that since federal policy is only incrementally weaker than the policy Arizona adopted, the state should follow the federal government on this one.

With areas of our state not meeting air quality standards and other areas likely to cross that threshold soon, we need every possible improvement to protect our air and our health. Using the Clean Cars Program in Arizona should be a no-brainer.

— Stacey Mortenson is executive director of the American Lung Association in Arizona.

Diane E. Brown is executive director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund.

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