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  Taking The Hill
Posted 8/1/2008
By Caroline Holland

U.S. EPA Investigates NAAQS Implementation Options

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a range of options that would affect the way the agency implements national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). Some options include the delegation of enforcement authority to states and eliminating the state implementation plan (SIP) system currently in place.

Such changes come as the EPA plans to offer amendments to the Clean Air Act including language prohibiting the consideration of costs when setting NAAQS. Stephen Johnson, EPA administrator, suggested that the NAAQS standard-setting process be modified by Congress after he announced the more stringent ozone standards in March of this year. Still, the EPA may face difficulties in Congress with amending the current implementation process.

At a May 28 meeting of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC), Bill Harnett, director of the Policy Office, indicated that while changes are welcome, the "practical reality" is that the current system will remain in place for a while. Harnett, instead, is focused on addressing additional NAAQS standards for lead, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide that have not been dealt with in many years. Harnett expressed his desire to experiment with the current regulations in place before turning to legislative review.

Crash Parts Bill Considered in California

California Assembly Bill 2825 is being considered by the California Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. The bill was introduced Feb. 22, 2008, by Wilmer Carter, state assemblyman.

The bill relates to existing law, which requires all work done by an automotive repair dealer (including independent dealers) to be recorded on an invoice that describes all service work done and parts supplied. Furthermore, it requires the invoice to specify if any used, rebuilt, or reconditioned parts are supplied. The legislation requires the dealer to attach parts invoices to the estimate and requires such dealers to provide a specified certification to the customer upon completion of the repairs, indicating that the parts identified on the estimate were installed. A hearing to consider the bill took place June 23.

CARB Receives Additional Funds to Clean Up State's Trucks, Buses

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, (R), revised his May 2008 budget to allocate an additional $48 million to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to assist low-income drivers to comply with regulations targeting the reduction of diesel emissions from trucks and buses. The funds are the result of California Assembly Bill 118, which will combine with previously allocated Provision 1B funding to help truckers pay for engine retrofits and replacements.

This will be required in 2010 if the CARB approves the regulation, and will clean up an estimated 420,000 trucks and buses registered in California as well as those coming in from other states. The regulation drafted by CARB calls for truckers to retrofit pre-2007 model truck years with soot filters and requires a gradual modernization of trucks beginning in 2012. Without such regulation, the CARB estimates 11,000 premature deaths from diesel truck emissions between 2010 and 2020.

California A.B. 118 is available on the Automotive Service Association's legislative Web site, www.TakingTheHill.com. CA A.B. 118 can be found under "Track Current Legislation" under the list of State Bills.

California Assembly Passes Capping Measure

The California Assembly unanimously passed California Senate Bill 1371 - the fifth version of the bill - that prohibits insurance companies from placing caps on payouts for collision repairs. The problem for the past two years has been that lawmakers cannot agree on a definition of capping.

The latest definition of capping, which was approved July 14 by the State Assembly, is "... offering or paying an amount that is unrelated to a methodology used in determining paint and materials charges that is accepted by automobile repair shops and insurers." The methodologies, which must be accepted by both automobile repair shops and insurance companies, are determined by multiplying the cost of paint and other materials by the refinishing rate.

Although the California State Assembly has approved this latest version, it must now be passed by the Senate.

Some states have paint capping regulations that are clear but there are many states that either don't address the paint cap issue or have vague statutory language. Virginia collision repairers were successful in acquiring the most recent paint cap law.


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