- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 26, 2000

Noble: George Allen, for protecting the environment by beating back the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Sometimes when the EPA loses the environment wins. Many Virginians may have forgotten the onerous emissions-testing system the EPA wanted to saddle them with six years ago. Thanks to George Allen, former governor of Virginia, that system can remain just a fading memory. Mr. Allen's efforts, written up in the current issue of Environment and Climate News, makes him the noble of the week.

That system was devised because the EPA, like most federal bureaucracies, went searching for a problem for which it could mandate the solution. In this particular case, the EPA concluded cars in Northern Virginia emitted too much pollution. The EPA's solution was simple: make all 500,000 cars trickle through a handful of government-run testing facilities. These facilities would replace more than 350 privately run gas stations that test emissions. And the government-run facilities were to use a battery of new and often unreliable testing methods, some of which had never been used outside the laboratory.

For Mr. Allen and his newly installed team, which included Becky Norton Dunlop as the new secretary of Natural Resources, the EPA's plan seemed an example of bureaucratic zealousness run amok. Within weeks of coming into office Mrs. Dunlop deferred action on the EPA's plan and began studying all the options. Mr. Allen began building a coalition to find a better solution and implement it.

The plan for the Allen team took shape rather quickly: The state would scrutinize privately run car repair-and-testing stations more closely, use alternative emissions-testing equipment and look at innovative technology, such as remote emissions-testing equipment, to reduce emissions and protect air quality. The EPA fought back. The federal agency threatened to pull Virginia's highway funds if the state didn't go along with the agency's plan. The agency then resorted to scare tactics, repeating dire environmental predictions, claiming repair facilities would force customers to fix problems that didn't exist or pass cars that failed the emissions tests.

Thanks to George Allen the EPA lost. Northern Virginia kept its highway funding and uses several hundred privately run testing stations and repair facilities. None of the more dire predictions came true. In fact, the state Department of Environmental Quality reports on its Web site that, although the comparison isn't exact, data it has reported to EPA show the Virginia plan is as or more effective than one in Connecticut considered a model for emissions control. Meanwhile, Virginia did not suffer the horrible lines and bureaucratic nightmare that would have awaited every driver once a year. Thank you, Mr. Allen.

Knave: Gloria Johnson and other California delegates to the Democratic National Convention who booed a band of Eagle Scouts.

The Eagle Scout badge is seen as a mark of honor nearly everywhere. But at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles the badge is a mark of disgrace worthy of being booed.

As a group of Eagle Scouts made their way onto the stage in L.A., Gloria Johnson and her fellow California delegates quickly made signs that said they supported gay Boy Scouts. She then led the other Californians in booing the boys as they took the stage and stood in the spotlights.

For a party that likes to claim it is all inclusive, this hardly seems tolerant. Yet afterward party officials, as reported by this paper, didn't repudiate those who booed the boys. Instead, they were careful to say the party supported gay rights.

How about supporting a few boys who worked hard and achieved a mark of excellence?

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