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Baja California is starting a smog-check program next week that authorities hope will help reduce pollution in the state, deputy minister for environmental protection José Alfredo Ferreiro Velazco said Thursday.
Ferreiro said that because so many of the state's cars are so old, smog checks for older cars will be required every year. He said more than 80% of the state's cars are at least 15 years old.
The cost of the test will be 240 pesos, roughly $18. The smog standard will be the same as California's, Ferreiro said.
Although the program will be rolled out in Mexicali on Tuesday, in Tijuana on Wednesday and in Ensenada on Thursday, it will not be required until July 15. There will be six verification centers in the state, including two in Tijuana.
Ferreiro, a former Tecate mayor and former state legislator for the National Action Party, spoke at a breakfast meeting of the Madrugadores group.
He said he hoped that the program does not become a political football, saying it is in Baja Californians' best interests to have cleaner air. "This is a life issue," he said. Mexicali and Tijuana are among the most polluted cities in Mexico. They and the state's other three municipalities are governed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party.
He said vehicles that are current on their California smog tests will not have to be retested in Baja California. Cars with expired California plates will have to comply with the program, however. Many vehicles in Baja California have California plates.
Ferreiro said vehicles emit 180,000 tons of pollutants into Baja California's air annually.
He said the smog program is the first for a Mexican border state. He said it could take two to three years to get all 1,400,000 vehicles in the state checked out.
He also said state officials are hoping that residents will more and more be developing "an environmental conscience." He said that he hoped that more and more people, instead of giving someone a regular birthday gift, instead would pay for a tree to be planted to help the environment as part of the state's program to create green corridors.
Story, Frontera (PDF).
Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Editorial saying "It's about time," El Mexicano (PDF) (both the editorial and El Mexicano story mistakenly list Ferreiro Velazco's name as Ferreiro Velázquez).
Editor's note: It appears that Velazco, more often than not, winds up being spelled Velasco by the Mexican media.
Update, Jan. 18: Smog check begins: cost will be free until July. Story, photo, Frontera (PDF).
Update, Feb. 1: 55% of vehicles lack catalytic converters.
Update, Feb. 5: Full page ad explaining program (PDF).
Update, Feb. 14: Frontera story about program's introduction in Ensenada (PDF).
Ferreiro Velazco spoke to the Madrugadores (Early Birds) group.
Update, May 21: Only 2% of vehicles have gotten smog check; it is free until July 16, and 250 pesos ($18.25) after that. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Update, July 11: Only 40,000 of 1.4 million vehicles, roughly close to 3%, have gotten smog check. Price beginning July 16 now listed as 320 pesos. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Update, July 28: Around 50 new cars fail smog check.
Update, July 29: Starting Sept. 17, smog check will cost 302 pesos ($23) for 2008-2012 model cars, and 242 pesos ($18) for older cars. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Update, Aug. 1: Computer error shuts down state's 10 smog-check centers. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Update, Jan. 16, 2013: State legislature says that while smog check is mandatory for vehicles in 2013, vehicles do not have to pass it until 2014.
Update, June 25, 2013: Zeta reports that smog-check centers are "in ruins," sees part of it as election-year ploy.