Pitco won’t reconsider
February 26, 2004
The Pitkin County commissioners shot down a formal request by the Aspen City Council to reconsider the county’s termination of vehicle emissions testing, a result which revealed rifts among government officials and among the commissioners themselves.
On Feb. 11, the commissioners voted 3-2 to disband a testing program that monitored carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions in vehicles registered in the county. According to county procedure, only a commissioner who voted to kill the testing would have been able to bring the Feb. 11 decision up for reconsideration.
Neither Dorothea Farris nor Shellie Roy were willing to reconsider. Patti Clapper was not present.
Councilman Terry Paulson was dismayed by the decision and said it will influence the city’s willingness to cooperate with the county. In killing its emissions testing program, the county had asked the city to fund a program to monitor the pollution levels in town.
“To put the onus on the city to come back with a program almost without your help just isn’t feasible,” Paulson told the board.
Both Farris and Roy reiterated their frustration with the lack of data regarding pollutant levels in town. They said that if monitoring revealed a pollution problem, they would reconsider the program.
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“I really need to get my arms around this,” Roy said. “If I find out I’m wrong after monitoring I’d say let’s bring it back.”
Both Jack Hatfield and Mick Ireland, the two commissioners who voted against disbanding the testing, implored Roy and Farris to reconsider.
Ireland pointed out that 430 cars failed emissions testing and were repaired last year, an indication of the test’s efficacy regardless of pollutant levels in town.
“I don’t abide by the principal that it’s OK to have 500 bad cars because we aren’t at the danger level for respiratory illnesses,” Ireland said.
Hatfield, who vehemently opposed ending the testing, pleaded for the possibility of directing county staff to draft a new emissions program with the help of the city. When Farris said she would not support such a proposal, tensions ran over.
“Clearly I’m being stonewalled here,” Hatfield said in frustration.
“Perhaps it’s because I’m ecologically insensitive,” Farris replied caustically.
[Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]