INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier lawmakers once again will ask federal officials to take whatever actions are needed to free Lake and Porter county motorists from the biennial vehicle emissions testing mandate.
On Wednesday, the General Assembly's Interim Study Committee on Roads and Transportation unanimously voted to request the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency remove Northwest Indiana from its Chicago region for air quality purposes.
Lake and Porter counties for years have met the EPA standard for ozone, a pollutant produced by vehicle emissions that can cause breathing difficulties for children, the elderly and individuals with lung disease.
However, because the EPA lumps the Region with Chicago, excess ozone levels on the Illinois-Wisconsin border require Northwest Indiana motorists to submit to vehicle emissions testing.
"This solution has to be dealt with on the federal side if we're going to get anything done," said state Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell.
Niemeyer believes having a Hoosier in the White House — Vice President Mike Pence — offers a rare opportunity for the state to press its case to someone willing to listen.
He recommended state lawmakers, business leaders and Region residents all contact their U.S. senators and congressmen to urge the EPA to eliminate the emissions testing obligation that applies, in Indiana, only to Lake and Porter counties.