Bartlett's help sought in emission's test battle

February 13, 1997


Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - While many Maryland lawmakers are pushing for legislation to halt or limit the state's vehicle emissions program, Washington County legislators say the real solution to the much-criticized testing might come from Congress.

Several members of the county delegation have written U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., asking for federal legislation that would lift the "unwarranted and unnecessary burden" created by environmental standards.

Bartlett press secretary Lisa Wright said the congressman would not comment on the letter until he speaks with the legislators about their concerns.


But she said Bartlett agrees the county should not be encumbered by the environmental standards.

Vehicle emissions testing is unpopular with many people in Washington County who consider it intrusive, time-consuming and unnecessary in a part of the state that does not have the pollution problems metropolitan areas have.

Some dread what will happen in July, when the state plans to make mandatory the use of the controversial dynamometer, a treadmill-like device that tests auto emissions at highway speeds.

Local lawmakers said the response they have received from area residents has been mostly, and understandably, negative.

"I hate the vehicle emissions program," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

On Wednesday, the House of Delegates Environmental Matters Committee held hearings on a variety of bills aimed at amending or abolishing the program.

Del. Anita J. Stup, R-Frederick/Washington, told the committee that Washington and Frederick counties have been unfairly included in the program as a means of lowering the region's air pollution average.

"No wonder why people from Western Maryland jump up and down and scream and shout" about testing, Stup said.

Several lawmakers said getting any of the bills passed will be difficult, especially in the Senate, which generally is considered to be tough on attempts to ease environmental regulations.

If a bill does get out of the legislature, it likely would be vetoed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who has urged expansion of the testing to keep the state in compliance with federal clean air standards.

That's why the local lawmakers are pushing for the federal government to make changes.

They have asked that Washington County be removed from the EPA's Northeast Ozone Transport Region designation, which requires it to be in the vehicle testing program.

"I see no other alternative," Munson said. He asked for the legislation along with Del. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington, Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, and Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

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