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Vehicle emissions

A Valparaiso auto emissions testing facility is seen in this 2009 file photo.

It's just one of many examples of how the federal government sends the wrong message based on regulation for the sake of control rather than actually improving our lives.

State lawmakers, including Northwest Indiana delegates to the Indiana General Assembly, have been studying ways for Lake and Porter counties to shed federal requirements for vehicle emissions tests.

And why not?

Northwest Indiana meets both the 2008 as well as the more stringent 2015 federal standards for ozone, a pollutant produced by vehicle emissions — and other sources — that can cause breathing difficulties in some members of the population.

Despite our great strides in cleaning up the problem, Lake and Porter counties are lumped into a "nonattainment area" with northeastern Illinois, including Chicago, and southeastern Wisconsin.

Because of that grouping, Lake and Porter counties are subjected to vehicle emission test requirements that don't apply to the rest of our state.

That means residents of two of our Region's core counties must submit to BMV-administered vehicle emissions tests every other year for passenger vehicles that are four years old or older.

Because our Region ozone levels are within compliance of the levels, Indiana lawmakers rightly would like to shed the emissions requirement.

Some state leaders also have considered scrapping the testing even though the unfair federal mandate stands.

But the feds hold too big of a stick, and Indiana’s congressional delegates should work to change that.

Failure of Lake and Porter counties to comply with the testing mandate would allow the federal government to withhold crucial transportation funding for roads and mass transit projects and usurp authority of the state's anti-pollution programs.

Given that our Region's ozone levels have improved and are in compliance, the inability to ever conceivably break free of the emissions testing without facing financial repercussions constitutes legalized extortion.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said such mandates are one reason Americans are fed up with the federal government.

"The federal government should not make us the whipping boy for Chicago," Soliday said.

More importantly, federal regulators should remember that such mandates are about making life better for residents, not continuing to punish localities that have succeeded in attaining the initial purpose.


Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Local News Editor Marc Chase, Lake County Editor Crista Zivanovic, Porter/LaPorte County Editor Doug Ross and Deputy Local Editor Erin Orr.