Local News

Breaking Ozone Rules Now May Cause Future Problems

Posted July 20, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Code orange is an ozone warning for people with respiratory problems. Unfortunately, the rest of us still are not paying much attention.

Following voluntary ozone rules now could eliminate mandatory lifestyle changes in the future.

Each day the exhaust produced from the ground ends up in the air, and on extremely hot days the ozone lingers dangerously. After the year 2000, the State Division of Air Quality says clearing the air will be required by law.

Like smog plagued California, North Carolina could soon require cleaner reformulated fuel at the pump, which would cost motorist an extra 2 to 11 cents per gallon of gas.

"Anytime you get into reformulation of fuels, that will cost and those costs are passed along to the consumer," said Sheila Holman, who is with the Division of Air Quality.

In the future car inspections will probably cost more and be less convenient. Inspections may be moved out of local gas stations to high tech centralized locations where cars and trucks will have to pass tougher emissions tests.

"We can actually tighten up the stringency of what each car has to meet, and it could mean that you have to get your car tuned up faster than what you normally would," Holman said.

If the state continues to fail air quality standards, the federal government has threatened to put the brakes on road construction in the Triangle.

"Road construction money, can be withheld if we fail. If we fail to plan. If we fail to implement," Holman said. "So, yes, that is a possibility. We certainly don't intend to do that."

The bottom line is that motorist contribute a lot to the problem, and everyone will have to be part of the solution.