Faced with a mandate from Washington for Automobile pollution inspections in Northern Virginia, members of a legislative panel today retaliated with a mandate of their own.
Under legislation approved by the state Senate's Transporation Committee, members of Congress who live in the Northern Virginia suburbs will have to have their automobiles inspected regardless of where their vehicles are registered.
"If they want these emission standards, let's make sure their vehicles are included, too because they're contributing to our pollution," said Sen. Joseph T. Fitzpatrick (D-Norfolk), who sponsored the congressional proviso.
It was attached by the committee to legislation establishing automobile emission inspections in the Northern Virginia suburbs and the Richmond area. Without the program, Virginia faces the loss of millions of dollars in federal aid, the committee was told today.
An amendment even more hostile to the federal government, which would have specified that the inspection program would begin only if federal authorities hand over more than $1 million for initial costs by mid-1982, failed by a vote of 7 to 4. Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) was the only Northern Virginia voting in its favor.
"I notice that in all the primary states President Carter has printed plenty of salve for their itchy palms," said Sen. Virgil H. Goode (D-Franklin). "I think he can do the same for Virginia."
The bill, which was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 8 to 6, would require annual tailpipe emission tests for cars in Northern Virginia and the Richmond area. Sens. Charles L. Waddell (D-Loudoun) and Edward M. Holland (D-Arlington) voted for it, while Saslaw opposed it.
Committee members strengthened the measure, which had been gutted in the House, after an Environmental Protection officer told them the House version was too weak to meet federal clean air standards and would probably cost the state $150 million in federal highway and sewage treatment funds.
Under the committee-passed measure, drivers of cars that fail emission tests would have to repair them up to a cost ceiling of $75. The committee also voted to include Richmond-area drivers and cars between five and eight years old under the bill. Both had been exempted under the earlier measure.
The Richmond and Northern Virginia areas are the only regions in the state that have been designated by EPA for auto emission checks because they fail to meet air quality standards for ozone pollution.