News from Patrick Flynn

Why I support I/M testing

In my brief tenure on the Anchorage Assembly the topic which has generated the most correspondence from neighbors near and far is whether to continue or cut Anchorage’s Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance, or I/M, program.  Those opposed to the program cite improved automotive technology and the lack of recent carbon monoxide (CO) violations of Clean Air Act standards, while supporters note the importance of testing as part of our successful Air Quality Program.  I’ve had numerous conversations with folks about the matter so I think it best to explain why I support continued I/M testing.

If the issue at hand simply dealt with CO levels in vehicle emissions and their presence in Anchorage as a whole then I might support elimination of the I/M program.  My day job at the Alaska Railroad Corporation, however, provides perspective that leads me to a different conclusion.  Part of my work includes service on various interdepartmental committees that address specific business aspects of railroading, including one that reviews our locomotive fleet needs.  This role exposes me to some of the regulatory matters that parallel Anchorage’s I/M program.  Not only are there new and more restrictive EPA requirements related to CO, but others dealing with emissions like hydrocarbonsnitrogen oxides and particulate matter.  It is my belief that these industrial standards will soon migrate into other areas of our daily lives, such as the cars we drive.  But don’t take my word for it – see what the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation have to say about particulate matter.

“So what?” some have replied, asking that I vote to eliminate the program we have and support re-starting one when federal requirements dictate that we do so.  But I don’t feel it’s that simple. 

First, I prefer to work in a proactive, rather than reactive, manner.  I certainly don’t want to wait for something akin to the miasma that cloaked Anchorage’s skyline during my younger years before addressing air quality problems.  I’d rather make the incremental changes to our existing program in order to avoid future federal edicts.

Second, we asked private businesses to invest in the equipment and personnel training needed to support our existing program.  If we pull the rug out from under them now and then ask them to make another investment in a few years their reply, quite reasonably, would likely be something along the lines of: “No, we don’t trust you.”  (Full disclosure: I have spoken with representatives of companies that provide I/M testing.  I declined to accept any campaign contributions from them.)

All this said, my support for continued I/M testing is not absolute.  For example, the current program allows a four-year exemption prior to the first test of a new vehicle.  One proposal on the table would extend that to six years and I asked the question as to whether that exemption could reasonably be pushed to eight.  And while I don’t support automatically exempting vehicles older than 25 years, I don’t want to require testing for historic cars.  There will be other aspects of this issue that will arise and I intend to work through them in a thoughtful manner.

With that I look forward to your thoughts and comments, whether you agree with me or not!



This contribution was made on Sunday, 06. July 2008 at 13:50 and was published under the category Coming events. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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1 Comment

  1. “I don’t want to require testing for historic cars.”
    But that is what is happening. I can’t even use mine once or twice during the winter. That is not right.
    Are they just going to be sent to the crusher?

    “…we asked private businesses to invest in the equipment and personnel..”
    And they have made that investment money back many times over.
    What about our historic cars, and many 25+ year old cars that are not necessarily considered to be all that
    “classic” or “important” at this point in time. Keep the I/M & soon you won’t see any of them. Sad.
    What about our investments?
    The old reliable, easy to repair, truck or van that I might need to haul garbage to the dump 2 or 3 times a year. Something that you would not drive to work or on any regular basis. No, I have a better, newer, more fuel efficient cars for that
    Are we to just throw these old trucks away & spend $30K for a new one?

    This thing needs to go, it’s way overdue.

    Comment: Tom Snyder – 17. July 2008 @ 11:03 pm

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