Residents in rapidly growing areas of Pinal County should be forced to have their vehicles tested for emissions to help clean up the Valley’s dirty air, Gov. Janet Napolitano said Wednesday.
The governor said the lines that define the areas considered at risk of air pollution — central Pima and Maricopa counties — are purely artificial.
Napolitano said she believes these areas are no longer the rural, self-contained communities they once were.
“The vast majority of people in many of these areas are driving into Tucson or driving into Maricopa County,’’ she said. “As our population has grown, that transportation area has grown together. So I think our vehicle emission testing needs to accommodate that and recognize that.”
But Napolitano is going to get a fight from some affected residents — and the legislators who represent them who are being asked to approve the change.
“If you want clean air, you have to concentrate where the dirty air is — in Maricopa County,” said Rep. Pete Rios, D-Hayden.
Rios said emissions testing is already required for vehicle owners in the most rapidly growing areas of Pinal County south and east of Queen Creek and Apache Junction. But the proposal would add almost all of the rest of the county, from Florence Junction in the north to Coolidge, Casa Grande and Maricopa, all the way to the Pima County line.
“We’re not doing this to be punitive,” Napolitano said. “We’re proposing this because it is very, very important for the quality of our lives and the quality of our public health that we take on this clean air challenge and that we take on the ‘brown cloud.’”