Mostly conservative members of the Ohio House have resolutely asked President Donald Trump and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate the 20-year-old E-Check program and other “burdensome” air quality initiatives they say choke the economy and peeve motorists.
House Resolution 85 passed Wednesday. The measure creates no law but, rather, asks Trump and his U.S. EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, to amend the Federal Clean Air Act to do away with the regular emissions checks that older cars must undergo, as well as other directives that safeguard air quality.
The E-Check program launched in 1996, covering seven Ohio counties around Akron and Cleveland — Summit, Portage, Medina, Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain and Geauga.
Northeast Ohio Republicans, including Summit County Reps. Marilyn Slaby (Copley Township), Kristina Roegner (Hudson) and Anthony Devitis (Green), are supporting the resolution as a rebuff on “burdensome regulations” that thwart business and economic growth.
“Only seven counties in Ohio are subject to this federal overreach of E-Check,” Roegner said. “I am glad to stand with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion and support House Resolution 85.”
The resolution asks Trump to “explore alternatives to the E-Check Program.”
“Due to an unfair burden to the residents in Northeast Ohio, my hope is that House Resolution 85 will urge the federal government to restructure the way in which emissions goals are reached,” DeVitis said. “The requirements for driving a vehicle in the affected seven E-Check counties should not be different than in any other Ohio county.”
“I recognize our concerns regarding air quality, but I encourage more efficient methods to obtain clean air that do not single out Northeast Ohio residents and create overly burdensome regulations,” Slaby added.
If business-friendly conservatives have ever had the ear of a like-minded White House administration and cabinet, that time is now. As the former Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt sued the U.S. EPA numerous times for what he considered economic-crushing overreach. Trump, on the campaign trail and in office, has not minced words on his support of loosening or abolishing environmental protections in favor of generating jobs and private investment.
In office, Trump has abandoned talk of climate change. He’s criticized the landmark international Paris Climate Agreement signed by President Barack Obama. And he’s issued an executive order that, citing in part a need for independence from foreign oil, would allow Canada to ship crude through the Keystone Pipeline across the American Midwest.
In a detailed budget proposal issued by the White House on Tuesday, funding for the EPA would fall by a third, the largest percentage cut to any federal department. The cuts, equating to about a 20 percent reduction in staff, would offset increases Trump is seeking in military spending. The goal, as expressed by Pruitt in the past, is to let the states, not the federal government, steer environmental efforts.
House Republicans call the resolution “bipartisan.” But while seven Democrats joined them, all 25 no votes came from Democrats, including Reps. Emilia Sykes and Tavia Galonski of Akron and Kathleen Clyde of Kent.
“HR 85 is a resolution asking Congress and the president to stop protecting air quality for Ohioans,” Clyde said. “It would hurt our children, senior citizens and pregnant women the worst. I will not throw vulnerable Ohioans under the bus for cheap political points. Ohio values taking care of our own.
“And with the disturbing news coming out of Washington each day, I do not trust the GOP-led White House or Congress to change the laws that protect Ohio’s air.”
When implemented 20 years in response to the federal Clean Air Act, E-Check was considered by the Ohio legislature to be the most cost-effective means of reducing the volatile compounds that generate smog and ground level ozone, which can be harmful when inhaled, especially for children and the elderly or those with asthma. The program rolled out with several glitches including faulty computer equipment, poorly trained technicians and five-hour-long waits. Today, the $18 checks take as little as five minutes though some motorists report that loose gas caps and bad air conditioners can flunk the tests, which can result in costly repairs.
Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @ABJDoug .