ALBANY, N.Y.-An effort by Gov. Mario Cuomo to back away from testing automobile emissions at special facilities has been rebuffed by federal officials. Last November the state signed a contract with an Arizona firm, Envirotest Systems Inc., to provide a centralized emission testing program to serve about 5.8 million vehicles in New York City and seven suburban counties. Separate contracts are pending for testing in 13 heavily populated upstate counties beginning in 1995.
The plan met criticism that it would be costly and inconvenient for motorists. Meanwhile, in neighboring Connecticut, state officials have accused Gov. Lowell Weicker of being improperly influenced by a lobbyist for Envirotest in awarding it a contract there.
In January, Gov. Cuomo wrote U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner asking if an alternative, such as a decentralized test and repair system, would be acceptable to the EPA.
Her answer: ``No on all counts.''
New York could face a massive reduction in federal highway aid if it fails to initiate an emission testing program as required by the Federal Clean Air Act.