Thursday, June 24, 1999

'Full speed ahead' for tailpipe test




BY AMY CAPPIELLO
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Despite a spirited fight by two Northern Kentucky counties to put auto emissions testing on hold in the region, the program is on target to begin Sept. 1.

        “We're 100 percent full speed ahead,” said Parker Moore of the Kentucky Division of Air Quality Control.

        Officials from Boone and Kenton counties have asked for a moratorium on emissions testing while a study of its effectiveness is under way.

        The program will require most Northern Kentucky drivers to have their vehicles tested every other year. The tests have been standard in Hamilton, Warren, Butler and Clermont counties since 1995.

        High auto emissions contribute to smog and poor air quality, Mr. Moore said.

        By testing vehicle emissions and requiring repairs, officials hope to cut vehicle emission levels in Northern Kentucky from 15 tons of volatile organic compounds per day to 10 tons per day over the next two years.

        More than 80 percent of autos are expected to pass the emissions tests on the first try. If an auto fails a portion of the test, owners will be able to make repairs and have it retested free.

        Autos that repeatedly fail the tests or never get tested will have a block placed on their county registration. But multiple failures don't mean the auto won't be able to hit the open road.

        “There are some vehicles that can't be repaired,” Mr. Moore said. “When that happens, and motorists can show that significant effort has been made to solve the problem, that they have done everything they can do to solve the problem, we can grant then a waiver allowing them to register the vehicle.”

        The first to be tested will be those owners who have vehicles made in odd-numbered years and whose registration expires in November; even-numbered model years will test in even-numbered years and odd-numbered model years will test in odd-numbered years.

        Wendy Hreha, a publicist for Envirotest Systems Corp., the company that operates the testing centers, said motorists would have 90 days to complete the emissions testing — the month their registration is renewable and the two months prior.

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