Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Warren Co. joins E-check foes

Commissioners urge state to find alternative

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - Warren County is joining the growing Greater Cincinnati opposition to vehicle emissions testing.

Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday encouraging Ohio legislators to find an alternative to the auto E-check system when its contract with the testing vendor ends in early 2005.

"It's never worked, nor will it ever work," Warren County Commissioner Larry Crisenbery said about the $20 emission test that most vehicles must go though every two years. "It's just been a joke."

Warren commissioners are not the only ones who feel the tests are ineffective.

Butler County commissioners have been arguing that point for months, asking lawmakers to find another way to meet the federal order to clean up the region's air. And Northern Kentucky GOP lawmakers have sponsored a bill that's pending in the state's General Assembly that would halt tailpipe testing in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties by Nov. 1.

Hamilton County is still deciding its stance. Commissioner John Dowlin says he's requested copies of what Butler County has done and will be bringing it up at a future staff meeting.

"Maybe we will get the attention of the legislators to finally implement a plan that actually has some merit and offers some actual environmental improvement," said Warren County Commissioner Pat South. "E-check doesn't. All that does is cost our residents more money."

Some lawmakers, such as state Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Mount Lookout, have vowed to try to eliminate the testing when the contract expires next year. Some alternatives, such as reformulated gasoline, are being talked about, but the question remains what will replace it to meet federal requirements. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is looking at the issue and will present a recommendation to state lawmakers.

"I haven't found a cheerleader for E-check up here yet," said state Rep. Courtney Combs, a former Butler County commissioner and long-time E-check critic. "We know we have to come up with alternatives, but it's kind of an open field right now. The general conclusion is that whatever is available is going to be better than E-check."


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