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Task Force Considers Vehicle Surcharge to Cover Pollution Costs

Task Force Considers Vehicle Surcharge to Cover Pollution Costs



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A state task force is considering charging Utah drivers a fee to pay for cleaning up air pollution caused by cars.

New federal regulations will soon force Utah to spend more for pollution control and monitoring. Air quality officials said they'll need about $3.2 million in additional funds to cover costs just through next year.

That's prompted the task force of industry experts, government officials and interest groups to look for funding solutions.

"Whether we realize it or not, we're all emitters," task force member Ernie Wessman, who works in the energy industry, said.

The proposed $1.96 fee -- which could be added to automobile registration or state gas taxes -- could generate millions annually.

State Sen. Fred Fife, D-Salt Lake City, said asking drivers to share the burden makes sense. Cars and trucks contribute to ground-level ozone in the summer and fine-particle pollution in the winter, contributing to health maladies like asthma and heart trouble.

"It's for the health and the well-being of the public," he said.

Industry fees pay for about 44 percent of air pollution control costs with state taxes and federal grants covering the remainder.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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