WEVTU reported May 15, 1999 (p.7) that, based on data then available, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) claimed reduction in fleet emissions from its I/M emissions test program would have to be severely reduced.

Sources close to the data analysis aspect of a new I/M effectiveness study now nearing completion indicate that the real gain from testing in-use vehicles is only 10% to 15% of the tons/day reduction claimed by the EPA for the IM-240 program. And this drastic downgrade of the program's value may go lower, as the total fleet turns over to newer technology; notably the replacement of carbueted vehicles with fuel injection.

As an example, the St. Louis, MO, I/M-240 program earns an EPA “credit” of 19.82 tons/day reduction in VOC emissions. That value is based on the outdated MOBILE5 calculation, which the EPA acknowledges is no longer valid — yet Missouri officials insist on using as part of its promotional justification of the program.

The actual gain, however, is in the two to three tons/day range for tailpipe emissions.

Persons attending a recent meeting in St. Louis, at which state I/M officials attempted to pacify legislators upset by citizen complaints about various aspects of the new I/M-240 testing, say regulators ignored requests for credible data on its actual gain.

It is evident the EPA, and at least a number of state I/M program officials, are willing to risk their credibility with the public in order to sustain the program, at least for the near term. Some believe the “near term” defines the period up to this fall's national elections, after which a strategy, now being devised, will attempt a carefully worded explanation of the I/M situation.