Friday, October 13, 2006

Ohio Environmental Vehicle Inspection Suit

John Frank, a resident of Clermont County, Ohio, has filed suit in Southern Ohio District Court Wednesday to compel the state to reinstitute emission inspections of all cars licensed here. (Article)

The Federal Clean Air Act (1990) requires each state to submit an implementation plan as part of the EPA’s “national ambient air quality standards.” Ohio’s plan is codified at 40 CFR § 52.1870

In 1991, according to plaintiff’s complaint, EPA designated Cincinnati as a “moderate ozone non-attainment area.” The Ohio EPA included vehicle inspection & maintenance guidelines in its proposed plan to improve our air quality, which was authorized by the General Assembly and became law in 1993.

Sometime around February 2005, Ohio EPA recommended to the General Assembly that the “E-check” program be terminated at the end of that year. The recommendation was rejected, with the General Assembly instead revising those pertinent sections of the Revised Code to require “continued implementation of an enhanced motor vehicle inspection & maintenance program in counties in which such a program was federally mandated.” (HB 66, codified as ORC §3704.14 and §3704.143 )

In March, and again in May 2005, Ohio EPA submitted proposed revisions to the State’s implementation plan to the Federal government, requesting that the Cincinnati and Dayton areas be redesignated as “ozone attainment areas,” and other measures which would’ve effectively terminated E-checks in those cities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency redesignated Cincinnati as an “ozone 1-hour attainment area,” but expressly rejected the request to terminate vehicle inspections, warning that “an implemented vehicle I/M program is currently required by the approved (plan), and should Ohio terminate the vehicle I/M program without submittal and EPA approval, it would be in violation of (its approved plan)..” (See 70 FR 35954)


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