The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) reports that it has about $12 million for the second year of the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine campaign, which began taking applications in mid-August. “On-road emissions are the biggest cause of air pollution in the North Texas region,” says NCTCOG spokesperson Lara Kohl. “That’s the whole point of our program — to get those cars off the road that are causing the majority of pollution.”
North Texas residents with cars 10 years or older and who meet the net income requirements can get $3,000 toward repairs to make their cars more air-friendly or to replace their car with one that meets the new, higher clean air standards. The qualifications depend on the size and income of the family. A family of four with $63,600 annual income, for example, would qualify for the $3,000. Those who buy a hybrid vehicle can get $3,500 toward the purchase.
AirCheckTexas was considered a big success in 2007-2008, when interested car owners packed waiting lists for the state assistance. In fiscal 2008 the program issued 11,500 replacement vouchers and 1,500 repair vouchers.
NCTCOG is a voluntary association of North Texas municipalities started in 1966 to plan for common needs.
Jeff Jacoby of the nonprofit Texas Campaign for the Environment says the NCTCOG has done “a solid job” with the AirCheck program but he wishes the Texas legislature would do much more to improve the area’s air quality.
The Environmental Protection Agency has flagged the D/FW area as a “non attainment” zone because it suffers repeated high ozone days during the summer, when heat and car emissions combine to generate ground-level ozone, causing unhealthy air conditions. The TCTCOG tracks ozone alert days in the area (21 days have exceeded safe levels for more than 8 hours each day in 2008) and offers a guide to the alert system, explaining for instance that during “orange alerts” kids and those with respiratory issues should limit outdoor activities.
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