The Cincinnati Enquirer
- The Butler County commissioners want to help AK Steel by
diverting the money from the E-check program to help pay for
air-quality equipment the company must buy to meet federal
clean air regulations.
The proposal by Commissioner Mike Fox calls for the state
to exempt Butler County from E-check, the state's auto
emissions monitoring and maintenance program, and institute an
annual air-quality surcharge of $29.50 - $10 higher than the
Most of that $10.5 million per year would be used to help
AK Steel pay for the $80 million cost of new air cleanup
equipment required to meet federal air quality regulations.
About $2 million from that revenue could be used for a fund
for public transit or for other industries in the county that
might be faced with new environmental cleanup costs.
It would, however, require the approval of Gov. Bob Taft
and the state legislature.
Specifically, the state would have to exempt Butler County
from the E-check program starting in 2005, when the state's
contract with the company operating the program expires, and
authorize the commissioners to make the air-quality surcharge
$10 higher than the E-check fee.
Environmental regulators say emissions testing has led to
improved air quality in congested areas. But Butler
commissioners contend that E-check doesn't significantly
reduce air pollution, and they're worried that AK Steel's
financial problems could result in the loss of hundreds of
jobs. AK, which has 4,072 employees, is the second-largest
employer in Butler County.
"We would be devoting the money to something that will not
only clean the air, but also will preserve jobs," Fox said.
"It seems to me it's a win-win deal."
The commissioners told their staff to research the
possibilities for this proposal and to discuss it with AK
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