Glendening urges calm in car emissions debate Governor, EPA official defend dynamometer test for smog reduction

March 20, 1997|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,SUN STAFF

Warning that Maryland stands to lose almost $100 million in federal highway funds, Gov. Parris N. Glendening appealed yesterday for "calmer voices" in the House of Delegates to avoid RTC a confrontation with the Environmental Protection Agency over vehicle emissions testing.

Joining EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner at the Naval Academy for an announcement of federal grants to Maryland in connection with the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Glendening stopped short of threatening to veto a bill passed by the Senate Monday that would keep the unpopular dynamometer emissions tests voluntary.

But he and Browner defended the treadmill-like device as the most effective way to reduce the ozone, or smog, that affects the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas in summer.

The dynamometer tests have been voluntary for the past two years at the state's 19 vehicle emission inspection stations. They are slated to become mandatory June 1 for 2.8 million of the state's 3.8 million motor vehicle owners.

But the Senate, responding to complaints from thousands of vehicle owners, narrowly approved a bill letting motorists continue to choose whether to take the test. Similar bills are pending in the House. Some owners complained that their vehicles were damaged by the procedure, in which tailpipe emissions are measured while technicians "drive" at highway speed on treadmill-like rollers.

About 43 percent of vehicle owners are volunteering for the dynamometer, but the EPA has threatened to cut off $98 million in federal transportation funds if the state does not test all cars and trucks.

Browner shied away from repeating that threat yesterday, but Glendening said he believed EPA officials were serious.

The governor discussed the emissions testing controversy after Browner announced that Maryland will receive $177,000 to plant trees along the Anacostia River in the Washington suburbs and along Longwell Run in Carroll County.

The money is part of $4.5 million collected by the EPA from the Exxon Corp. for the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989. Congress authorized the fund to finance projects to restore and protect waterways around the country.

Of the EPA funds for Maryland, $165,000 will be spent to plant trees along 14,000 feet of the Anacostia and to restore one of its tributaries, and $12,000 will go toward repairing stream bank erosion caused by unmanaged storm water on Longwell Run in Westminster.

Pub Date: 3/20/97

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