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 SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) today released a report comparing results gathered from testing competing Smog check equipment and found that equipment supported by the U.S. EPA was dramatically more expensive and may provide only marginally improved benefits over alternatives developed by California.
 "This study, coming on the heels of similar independent reviews of the state's Smog Check program, reveals the inherent weaknesses in the federal government's approach to Smog Check. While we appreciate seeing the first signs of flexibility from U.S. EPA, their continued insistence on centralized systems is too prescriptive, too costly, and provides only marginal air quality benefits," said James M. Strock, scretary for Environmental Protection.
 "U.S. EPA's testing program is built on IM240 equipment which exceeds $100,000 in costs per unit and could potentially shut the doors on countless small businesses," Strock added.
 The study, prepared by Cal/EPA's Air Resources Board (ARB), tested U.S. EPA supported IM240 equipment against alternative Acceleration Simulation Mode (ASM) equipment developed by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) and Sierra Research. Among the findings in the report:
 The ASM tests performed nearly as well, and for far less cost. The projected cost of ASM equipment ranged from $16,900 (when existing BAR90 equipment is used) to $30,900, compared to IM240 costs in excess of $100,000;
 The only vehicles that went unidentified by the ASMs tended to be "marginal" emitters which tend to be difficult and expensive to repair while only contributing little to total excess emissions.
 "California has every intention of meeting federal performance standards for clean air, but we deserve the chance to craft an alternative plan for improving Smog Check that meets those standards without putting people out of work, closing down businesses, or inconveniencing consumers," Strock said.
 "As Vice President Gore said in a speech recently to the National Governors Association, `Program rules and regulations must be fundamentally rethought and their focus changed from compliance to outcomes, from sanctions to incentives.' That's good advice and we hope U.S. EPA is listening," Strock added.
 U.S. EPA has asked states to use the IM240 test procedure, which involves running a car through a transient dynamometer for 240 seconds. California currently uses a two-speed idle test which checks a car's emissions at idle and with the engine running at an elevated idle of 2,500 rpms.
 Costly IM240 testing equipment is only used in centralized systems which could inconvenience consumers by leading to the shut down of many community-based smog check businesses and force consumers to wait in long lines for testing and possibly endure a "ping-pong" effect of driving from a test facility to a separate repair facility and back again for testing if their car failed.
 "IM240 has the potential of being U.S. EPA's environmental version of the Pentagon's expensive toilet seats and screwdrivers -- costs outrageously out of line for the inherent or potential value of the product. Public confidence in our environmental regulations is too valuable to be put at risk by this rigid bureaucratic decision-making," Strock said.
 ASM equipment was also shown to be effective in identifying gross polluting vehicles, the 15 percent of the state's vehicles on the road that account for over 50 percent of total vehicle emissions.
 The ARB report comes after two other reports were released at a Senate Transportation Committee hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday, August 24, by the RAND Corp. and the University of California at Irvine, which both argued for increased use of remote sensing and enhancements to the current system instead of costly systemwide changes to a centralized testing standard.
 Gov. Wilson remains committed to working with Senator Quentin Kopp (D-San Francisco), Assemblyman Richard Katz (D, Panorama City) and all legislators and other interested parties to design a plan embracing consumer convenience, clean air and a jobs. By drawing from the ideas of environmentalists, industry and others, we are convinced that a bipartisan plan can be approved by the legislature within the next few weeks and which will be ultimately be approved by U.S. EPA.
 "Governor Wilson remains committed to working with Senator Kopp, Assemblyman Katz and all legislators and other interested parties to achieve a consensus solution on reforming and improving our I/M program. We are working very hard on a bipartisan plan that will be heard by the legislature next week," Strock said.
 -0- 8/26/93
 /CONTACT: James J. Lee of Cal/EPA, 916-324-9670/

CO: California Environmental Protection Agency ST: California IN: ENV SU:

TM -- SF014 -- 6398 08/26/93 18:36 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 26, 1993

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