- Report Published -
|Development of an Enhanced Motor Vehicle Emissions Inspection and Maintenance Program for Northern Virginia|
|Department of Environmental Quality|
|Chapter 995 (Regular Session, 1993)|
|The Clean Air Act requires that the Northern Virginia vehicle emissions inspection program be upgraded from the current program, which tests vehicle exhaust emissions at idle speed, to an "enhanced" program which tests exhaust emissions from most vehicles during a simulated driving cycle and also tests the fuel supply system for excessive fuel evaporation losses. The Virginia statute implementing the federally mandated program requires that vehicles be inspected at a test-only emissions inspection facility, unless the federal program requirements are changed to allow a test and repair program. Federal regulations have not been changed to allow a test and repair program.|
In order to implement the Clean Air Act and the Virginia law, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) undertook the development of program regulations and the development of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to procure a company or companies to operate the program. The regulation which has been proposed, pursuant to the statute, and the program which has been developed, meet all federal and state requirements for program design and operation.
Implementation of the program will result in a significant reduction in pollution from motor vehicles. The reduction achieved will meet the requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for enhanced emission inspection programs and will enable the Commonwealth to meet the overall pollution reduction requirements set by the Clean Air Act. Thus, implementation of this program will enable the Commonwealth to comply with both the Clean Air Act and the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.
The key element in the program is the regulation which contain provisions covering: inspection procedures; test standards; inspection equipment; quality control; consumer protection and quality assurance; temporary exemptions, deferments and waivers; on-road testing; federal facilities; fees; emissions inspection station permits; and emissions inspector training and licensing. The geographic coverage of the program consists of the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford; and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Also included are vehicles which operate primarily in these areas, regardless of registration address.
Virginia's program was developed by the Department of Environmental Quality with the assistance of advisory groups composed of service station dealers, automobile dealers, environmental and health organizations, experts in emissions inspections, and local, state, and federal government representatives. The State Air Pollution Control Board (SAPCB) has promulgated a proposed regulation governing the program. A Request for Proposals has been issued to obtain a contractor to develop and operate the program. Proposals must be submitted to the DEQ by December 1, 1993.
Certain program requirements have been updated or clarified since the release of the EPA regulation. EPA added a program option which would allow fleets to purchase and install their own enhanced program equipment but still comply with the test-only" concept for the program. EPA also added an exemption for vehicles held for sale by motor vehicle dealers and provided conditions for deriving maximum pollution reduction credits if this exemption were allowed. Finally, EPA has furnished final guidance on emissions inspection pass/fail standards, or "cutpoints," for applicable vehicle model years and weight classes. This guidance provides a more "relaxed" set of cutpoints for the first two years of program implementation and a phase-in of the final cutpoints after the first two years. The SAPCB's proposed regulation incorporates all three of these provisions.
There is one lawsuit regarding the implementation of the enhanced inspection and maintenance program. The suit was brought by the National Automobile Dealers Association and the Service Station Dealers of America against EPA. It is the claim of these plaintiffs that the issuance b EPA of a rule, versus issuance of guidance, exceeds the authority granted EPA in the Clean air Act. The suit also claims that EPA's determination of reduced pollution reduction credits for other than test-only inspection programs, exceeded its authority, was arbitrary, and constitutes a "taking" under the 4th amendment to the Constitution. Another legal action brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) was combined with the above action by the court. In that action, NRDC claims that EPA had no authority to allow states to submit so-called "committal State Implementation Plans (SIP)" in November 1992 for the implementation of enhanced programs rather than a final, legally-binding SIP. A decision by the Court on these issues is expected in the spring of 1994.
The Department of Environmental Quality is making no recommendations for legislative changes by the 1994 General Assembly.