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  Taking The Hill
Posted 2/2/2009
By Clarence Mills

Federal Vehicle Safety Inspection Bill Introduced

The "Michael Jon Newkirk Transportation Safety Enhancement Act of 2009," H.R. 259, has been introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, in the 111th Congress. The bill was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

H.R. 259 proposes to establish state safety inspection programs and national standards for state safety inspections of motor vehicles across the United States.

Because many states do not have a vehicle safety inspection program, as well as inconsistent state standards for safety inspection programs in states that do have inspections, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) supports federal legislation mandating periodic motor vehicle safety inspection (see related article here).

CARB Adopts Rules to Decrease Emissions from Heavy-Duty Trucks

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved two important regulations that will decrease harmful emissions from the approximately 1 million heavy-duty diesel trucks that operate on California's highways.

The truck and bus rule, which will require truck owners to install diesel exhaust filters on their rigs, will be implemented Jan. 1, 2011.

The heavy-duty vehicle greenhouse gas emission reduction regulation will require owners to install fuel-efficient tires and aerodynamic devices on their trucks to decrease emissions and improve fuel economy. CARB predicts these additions will
prevent premature death, improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gases.

EPA Defends Greenhouse Gas Waiver Decision

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to deny California's greenhouse gas provisions on the Clean Air Act has stirred up questions among supporters of California's efforts to set standards within the state.

In response, the EPA administered a report, "EPA's California Waiver Decision on Greenhouse Gas Automobile Emissions Met Statutory Procedural Requirements," in an effort to terminate speculation.

The report states that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson "conducted adequate notice and hearings on the denial as required by section 209(b) of the air act." However, supporters of the regulation will most likely not be persuaded of the legitimacy of the report's findings. President Barack Obama's administration promised to grant the waiver soon after his inauguration Jan. 20.

OSHA Approves New Respirator Noncompliance Regulation

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has approved the regulation to amend the "Remedy for Violation of Requirements to Provide Personal Protective Equipment and Train Employees" regulation currently in place. Specifically, this proposal clarifies that "noncompliance with the personal protective equipment (PPE) and training requirements in safety and health standards may expose the employer to liability on a per-employee basis."

The amendment's purpose is to spell out solutions for violations of existing requirements, and to create a standard throughout OSHA provisions so that the agency is able to deal with an employer's failure to provide the required training and/or PPE as individual violations. The amendment became effective Jan. 12, 2009.

The Sell Fuel-Efficient Cars Act of 2008 Introduced in Senate

A new Cash for Clunkers proposal was introduced at the end of the 110th Congress. Introduced by U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., the "Sell Fuel-Efficient Cars Act of 2008" will require the secretary of treasury to carry out a program to enable certain individuals to trade certain old automobiles for certain new automobiles, and for other purposes.

The bill, which would provide government funds to remove older, less-fuel-efficient vehicles from America's highways, was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

Harkin's proposal does not contain a repair option. ASA has encouraged Congress to only enact fleet modernization programs that are state-administered and include a repair option for vehicle owners.

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