WASHINGTON-A Senate subcommittee has passed an Environmental Protection Agency appropriations bill that, among other things, would bar the EPA from spending any funds to enforce centralized vehicle emissions inspection/maintenance testing. This provision is identical to one already passed in the Senate bill to designate the National Highway System.
The House EPA appropriations bill also forbids any agency mandate for centralized testing, but the language is different.
The Senate Veterans Affairs, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee passed its fiscal year 1996 EPA appropriations bill by a 7-3 vote Sept. 11. The full Senate Appropriations Committee was expected to take up the bill later that week.
Like the Senate NHS bill approved in June, the Senate EPA bill contains a one-year moratorium on the agency requirement for either the IM240 vehicle emissions test or centralized, test-only inspection stations.
States may proceed with IM240 and centralized testing if they want, but the agency may not force them.
The House bill, on the other hand, prohibits the EPA from spending funds to enforce any emissions credit plans that would reduce states' credits for using decentralized testing or any other testing method besides IM240.
In the House version, states must be given at least two years to design and test their own I/M programs. Credits must be based on ``real world'' emissions reductions, rather than EPA projections.
There are many differences between the House and Senate EPA appropriations packages. Of the 17 riders House Republicans added to their bill to slash environmental regulations, the Senate retained only one intact and rejected most of the others.
Also, while the Senate legisla-tion reduces the EPA budget by more than $1 billion, the House version cuts it by nearly $2 billion.
Unlike the EPA bills and the Senate NHS legislation, the House NHS bill-approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Sept. 8-contains nothing on enhanced I/M.
Despite Congressional interest in modifying I/M requirements, it is unclear whether any of the proposed reforms will become law. President Clinton has already threatened to veto the House EPA bill in its current form, and reportedly is also unhappy with the Senate bill.
As for NHS designation, the Clinton administration apparently prefers the three-paragraph provision in the Transportation Department appropriations package to the larger NHS bills.