The Rockville City Council has approved the Washington Metropolitan Council of Government's draft plan to clean up the air in the metropolitan area and to bring area jurisdictions into compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Act amendment of 1977.
Under the amendments, Washington area jurisdictions must enact measures to reduce hydrocarbons and carbon monoxides in the air by 42 percent and 26 percent respectively. Improvements must be accomplished by 1982.
Although council members expressed strong opposition to the measures required to meet EPA standards for 1982, they said they felt compelled to adopt the draft plan. Failure to do so could result in the loss of $2 million in federal aid to Rockville.
According to the city planning staff, EPA has provided no data showing that the air quality in Rockville is unhealthy. There is now no air quality monitoring equipment in the city. EPA has also failed, the staff said, to place a price tag on measures needed to meet 1862 air quality-standards.
"This open-ended commitment (to EPA) is absolutely ridiculous and irresponsible," Rockville mayor William E. Hanna Jr., said at Monday's meeting.
The mandated cost could be absolutely enormous. And I use the word 'could' because no one knows what these costs will be."
During the council discussion on the matter, Hanna and council member John R. Freeland tried to convince the three other members to reject the plan. It was their intention, they said, to begin an area-wide campaign to reject COG's proposal unless EPA funded all costs of implementing the plan.
"I can't think of a better time than now to band together and reject this," Freeland said, in light of what he described as citizen pressure to trim government spending.
After a lengthy debate the council agreed to support the plan but to make formal objections to EPA.
Essentially, Rockville has agreed only to projects already under study or implemented.
These include supporting the completion of a full 100-mile Metro rail system as originally planned; supporting a regional gasoline tax to help finance Metro; encouraging car-pooling by city employes; building additional bikeways, and extending to Rockville a mini-bus service now operating in Montgomery County.
In other action, the council voted to study the possibility of extending its consumer protection ordinance into the areas of tenant protection in cases of condominium conversions; motor vehicle repairs, and TV and appliance installation and repair.
Rockville now follows the state law in these areas, but according to councilman Kenneth F. Sullivan, residents might be better served if the city has its own ordinance.