Wednesday, June 8, 2016

ABQ Illegally Required Testing of Diesels for Years

The Number of Metro Area Diesel Vehicles that ABQ Illegally Required to be Tested Could Be in the Thousands

BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI For the past three and a half years, the City of Albuquerque has been illegally required testing diesel-powered vehicles as part of its vehicle emissions testing program, and now the city is asking for authority to stop the diesel-testing effort. The city's Environmental Health Department has asked the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board to conduct a future hearing on the proposal to remove diesel vehicles from the testing program. The board was expected to decide Wednesday night whether to grant that hearing. “A legal review has revealed that the diesel emissions test requirement exceeds state and local legal authority,” said the city's petition to junk the testing program for diesel vehicles. Diesel vehicles weren't included in the city's original emissions testing program that began in the late 1980s. The Air Quality Control Board approved a requirement to test diesels every two years in October 2012, and the program went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. But the problem is that diesel vehicles aren't included in the state's air quality law, nor the city's. Both city and state laws regarding emissions testing say that vehicles subject to emissions testing must be under 26,000 pounds and “powered by a spark-ignited internal combustion engine,” according to the city's petition. “Diesel engines are compression-ignited, not spark-ignited,” the petition says. "The current diesel emissions test requirement conflicts with the State Air Quality Control Act and the City Motor Vehicle emissions Control Ordinance. In this petition, EHD [Environmental Health Department] proposes to remove the diesel emissions test requirement from the [emissions testing] program." It wasn't immediately known how many diesel vehicles have been illegally tested since 2013, but the number is undoubtedly in the thousands. Nor is it known much money diesel vehicle owners spent for the illegally mandated tests. And, there was no mention in the city's petition if vehicle owners who got the illegal tests under threat of being unable to register their vehicles should get refunds. Nor was it kimmediately known if the City of Albuquerque is legal jeopardy for damages to the owners of the tested diesel vehicles.  

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