DESPITE ALTERNATIVES, EPA INSIST ON NEW RULE
WHICH WOULD COST THOUSANDS OF JOBS, PENALIZE U.S. MOTORISTS
WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Citing EPA's reckless disregard of independent studies and arrogance in its refusal to consider alternatives, an industry group charged today that the Environmental Protection Agency is rushing ahead with a new rule on auto emissions inspections which threatens thousands of jobs and increased inconvenience for America's 80 million motorists.
The rule, which establishes performance standards for basic and enhanced vehicle inspection/maintenance (I/M) programs under the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) of 1990, is scheduled to take effect in November.
However, Morton J. Getman, executive director of the Society of Auto Vehicle Emissions Reduction (SAVER), said EPA must seek an extension of the court-ordered deadline to properly consider alternatives. He also questioned the legality of the EPA ruling, which, he said, being based on selective data, is "arbitrary and capricious."
German, whose organization represents small manufacturers of auto testing equipment, testified before an EPA panel considered proposed new rules on I/M programs.
He pointed out that EPA's scheme would, in effect, force centralizing testing programs on the states by mandating the use of new, untested, cost-prohibitive technology (up to $300,000 per installed unit). The rule would force thousands of garages, service stations and auto dealers out of the testing field and could result in tens of thousands of jobs lost.
"Clearly, decentralized programs can be just as effective in cleaning up the air," Getman observes, "and there exists equally effective equipment that can be purchased for one-tenth of the installed cost of EPA's equipment."
An alternative technology, steady state loaded mode (SSLM) dynamometer has been successfully tested by the State of California, Environment Canada and other independent sources. Results from these studies have been presented to EPA but ignored, Getman says.
"EPA's mistaken belief that centralized testing is inherently better appears to dive its decision-making on this issue," Getman says. "How else can you explain that EPA will allow only 50 percent of the emissions reduction credit to a state with a decentralized program, no matter how effective it is? This certainly appears to be a subtle form of bureaucratic blackmail."
More than 20 states currently have decentralized auto emission inspection programs, in which autos are tested at authorized garages, service stations and auto dealers. Often, repairs necessary to comply can be made at the test site. The centralized program would force motorists to locate one of the new inspection stations (which would be limited in number because of high costs) and, if repairs are necessary, go elsewhere then return to the inspection station.
EPA argues that test and repair must be separated in order to discourage cheating. The elimination of "cheating" on the tests under a centralized program is a mirage, Getman says, pointing to the recent taxi and limousine inspection scandal in New York City. "In a centralized program, cheating is just done on larger scale: he said, insisting that lack of enforcement will have similar results in both centralized and decentralized.
"It is odd that with other regulatory efforts, such as ozone depletion, where potential health risks are actually much greater, EPA allows your service repair shops to test and repair the automobile air conditioning system. Yet in this instance, the shop cannot be trusted to operate cost-effective, computerized, tamper-proof emissions analyzers," he said. Franchised auto dealers would not even be able to perform test and repair on the emissions systems they are legally and contractually bound to service.
Getman, who was one of a number of concerned parties testifying during a two-day hearing, presented the industry's case on EPA's false assumptions, faulty emissions reduction projections and faulty cost projections, and the alternatives to centralized I/M. He also spoke on behalf of America's motorists in a section of his remarks called "Shifting the Burden, Shafting the Motorist."
The independent studies, Getman says, have revealed the considerable inconvenience and potential cost to the motorist under this system. In it proposed rule, EPA argues that inconvenience costs to the consuming motorist do not count. Yet, when the prestigious think-tank, Resources of the Future, analyzed the EPA proposal it concluded that the inconvenience costs could amount to more than $500 million annually. "It is no wonder we cannot balance the federal budget when EPA bureaucrats can so easily discount such enormous costs to the consuming public," said Getman.
Getman was supported in his comments by representatives of the service station operators and new car dealers associations. Gene Fondren, president of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, stated "While everyone really wants to achieve here, or should want to achieve, is cleaner air not paper transfers of some kind of mystical credits that no one can define. A well run decentralized I/M system utilizing stringent on-line centralized controls and hardware that is within reach of many small businessmen and women, will achieve that goal."
In addition, Dennis DeCota, executive director of the California Service Station and Auto Repair Association, said "While we are trying to play 'catch-up' between the BAR 90 technology and the workforce which utilize it, we are dealt the 'knock-out' punch by the government with this latest EPA rule. The last thing we need is a regulation which not only pushed the technology past the present training level but blasts it clear off the blackboard!"
EPA has indicated that the I/M rules are due to become final in November. SAVER and several other organizations indicated at the hearings today, that without significant changes in the proposals, the rule would be challenged in court. Warned Getman: "The final rule must create cost effective, enhanced I/M and must truly permit the choice by the states between equally effective centralized and decentralized programs...We still stand ready to cooperate. If the final rule resembles the proposed rule, it surely will be brought down in the courts. That course is not the best course for clean air."
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/CONTACT: Morton J. Getman, 518-449-1040, or Joe Shafran, 202-544-1610, both of Society of Automotive Vehicle Emissions Reduction/ CO: Society of Automotive Vehicle Emissions Reduction ST: Washington, D.C. IN: AUT SU: TS -- NY097R -- 9431 08/13/92 07:46 EDT