Local News

New Emission Tests Scheduled To Start Monday On Hold

Posted July 2, 2002 1:20 a.m. EDT

— Monday was supposed to be the start of new federally-mandated emissions tests, but those tests are on hold.

Service stations in North Carolina's urban counties, including Wake, Durham and Orange, already measure car emissions with a tailpipe test, but a new test required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will not start Monday as planned. Instead, they will be on hold until the end of September.

The on-board diagnostic test is conducted with equipment that can be plugged into the computers of recent model cars and print out an analysis of the car's emissions at different speeds.

"We have to comply with federal law. Our mission is to accomplish the goal of clean air," said Lt. Col. John Robinson of the state Division of Motor Vehicles.

But accomplishing that mission requires new equipment that is not ready. According to the state Division of Air Quality, manufacturers have to create custom software for every state, and they are behind.

Service stations have to spend at least $15,000 for the testing equipment and many of them have been complaining. They said it will cost about $38 every time they perform the test on a car, but the state only allows stations to charge $30.

"We're stuck with that. You can't just say, 'Hey, well, I had to buy a lot of new equipment this year, and I'm going to get a better price,'" said Al Dorsett of the North Carolina Service Stations Association. "You can't do it. There's a ceiling price on what you can charge, which is not enough."

The General Assembly lifted the price from $19 to $30 to help service stations cover the new costs. Also, according to the state Division of Air Quality, service stations can get reimbursed for the cost of purchasing the new equipment.