Posted in | News | Pollution | Transportation

Summer-Long Challenge will Reduce Harmful Smog and Cut Traffic Congestion

The Department of Environmental Protection urged Susquehanna Valley commuters to sign up for the Share the Ride Challenge today to reduce vehicle emissions that can threaten the public's health, cut highway congestion, and decrease local fuel consumption.

DEP Deputy Secretary for Waste, Air and Radiation Management Thomas Fidler joined the Air Quality Partnership of the Susquehanna Valley, mass-transit representatives and local officials to challenge commuters to carpool and use public transportation more often this summer.

"Vehicles are responsible for about one-quarter of the air pollution in Pennsylvania and, in some regions, they are the single largest source of pollution," said Fidler. "Vehicle emissions contribute to a host of health and environmental problems such as urban smog and airborne toxins, which hinder economic development and diminish our quality of life. The Share the Ride Challenge gives commuters an opportunity to help clear the air this summer." The Share the Ride Challenge runs from May 1 through Sept. 30 during the peak ozone season and it challenges commuters in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties to carpool or use public transportation at least 10 times during the 22-week period.

Individuals must register and log their ride-sharing activities to qualify for prizes. The challenge Web site includes tools for businesses to encourage employees to participate.

Under Governor Edward G. Rendell's leadership, the commonwealth has made significant progress towards improving air quality across Pennsylvania, strengthening Pennsylvania's Clean Vehicles Program, promoting tough new idling regulations, and establishing stricter rules for air emissions from electric power plants, other industries and consumer products.

Pennsylvania's Clean Vehicles Program was adopted in 1998 to phase in stricter auto emissions standards that ensure cleaner, healthier air across the commonwealth at no overall additional cost to consumers. State regulations set model year 2008 as the compliance date for new emission standards for new passenger cars and light-duty trucks in Pennsylvania, and require automakers to make fleets cleaner.

These two steps will substantially reduce toxic pollution and reduce ozone-producing emissions by thousands-of-tons-per-year.

In addition to smog-producing emissions, vehicles also emit toxic pollutants like benzene. Pennsylvania motorists increase their vehicle miles driven by approximately 2 percent every year, so improving vehicle technology better protects public health and the environment.

The Share the Ride Challenge is organized in south central Pennsylvania by the Air Quality Partnership of the Susquehanna Valley. To join the challenge, visit and create an account.

DEP offers educational resources for commuters who wish to buy new fuel-efficient vehicles or take steps to keep their current vehicle operating efficiently at, keyword: Cars & Trucks.

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