Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush Signs Bill Halting Auto Emissions Tests Dade County Mine Issue Delayed Governor's Action

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush Signs Bill Halting Auto Emissions Tests Dade County Mine Issue Delayed Governor's Action

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- Ending an annual ritual for millions of motorists, Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill yesterday that will abolish auto emissions tests July 1 in Duval and five other counties.

Bush, who has favored ending the tests for months, waited until the last possible day to sign the bill because of concerns about an unrelated issue that lawmakers tacked on.

Bush worked in recent days to resolve the issue, which involved regulation of blasting in Dade County lime-rock mines. When negotiators reached an agreement, he went ahead with ending the emissions testing program, which he called an "unnecessary burden for motorists."

"Because of advances in technology and a better understanding of the causes of air pollution, motorists will no longer have to participate in this unnecessary program, and all Floridians can be confident that Florida's air quality will continue to improve," Bush said.

Rep. Jim Fuller, a Jacksonville Republican who has led a fight for five years to end the emissions tests, praised the governor's decision. Fuller has long argued that the tests do little to help curb air pollution.

"I'm pretty happy right now," said Fuller, chairman of the House Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee.

But Maurice Coman, conservation chairman for the Florida chapter of the Sierra Club, called ending the tests a "dangerous step." He said it could jeopardize the success of Duval and three other counties in meeting federal air quality standards.

"To discontinue it is to take the chance that those areas could fall below standards again," Coman said.

The tailpipe tests began in 1991 in Duval, Palm Beach, Broward, Dade, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties because of air pollution problems. State law requires motorists to pass the tests before they can renew vehicle registrations.

But the tests have been unpopular with many motorists, who disliked having to wait in lines, cough up $10 and then, if they failed, get their cars repaired.

Pressure to end the tests grew in recent years as Duval, Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties met air quality standards. …

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