WASHINGTON-Gov. Pete Wilson of California has signed three bills establishing a compromise with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on vehicle emission inspection and maintenance (I/M). The bills, signed March 30, require cars six years old or older to be tested in test-only facilities. Owners of newer cars may go to test-and-repair facilities.
California also signed a memorandum of agreement with the EPA to implement the agency-required enhanced I/M program by the Jan. 1, 1996 deadline. The agreement and the legislation commit the state to sending at least 30 percent of its vehicle fleet beginning Jan. 1.
About 60 percent of California's vehicle fleet is six years old or older, according to the agency.
Before the compromise, California stood to lose $600 million to $800 million in annual federal highway funds because of the mandatory-sanctions clause in the EPA's I/M regulations.
The EPA strongly encourages test-only programs because agency surveys demonstrate more accurate testing and greater emissions reductions when test facilities are separate from repair shops.
The governors of some states-including New York and Georgia-reportedly have said they will seek a modification of the test-only facilities clauses in their new I/M programs as a result of the California compromise, an EPA spokeswoman said. The head of the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection has said the state will not adopt the California plan.