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Valley motorcycles would no longer need emissions tests under EPA plan

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WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency is ready to drop its requirement that motorcycles undergo emissions inspections in the Valley, the last area in the country to require the tests.

The agency said this month that it is prepared to accept a request from state environmental officials that motorcycle tests be discontinued.

The change could take effect by next year, said Colleen McKaughan, an associate director in the air division at the EPA regional office in San Francisco.

“We’ll try and get this out the door as quickly as we can,” McKaughan said.

A final rule cannot be drafted until after the public comment period, which ends Dec. 5. Trevor Baggiore, deputy director of air quality in the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said he expects the EPA to have its final rule by the end of the year and have it in place by spring.

The request to drop the testing requirement came in response to a 2008 state law requiring ADEQ to do an analysis of pollutants emitted by motorcycles and make a proposal to the federal agency, Baggiore said.

Even though motorcycles account for 3.5 percent of vehicles on the area’s roads, the department’s analysis determined that they emit “insignificant” amounts of pollution, accounting for less than 1 percent of total emissions in the Phoenix metro area.

“Our analysis has determined that the cost and inconvenience is not providing a significant environmental benefit,” Baggiore said.

Motorcycle owners currently have to get their bikes tested every year by the state, at a cost of $19 per test. By exempting motorcycles, Baggiore said the emissions-testing process for everyone else should be faster and easier.

“This will just be less of a hassle from a testing procedure,” he said.

Timothy Johnston, a Tolleson resident who has driven a motorcycle for the past five years, said the testing process is a hassle.

“I have to stay in line with everyone else, and once I get in, I have to take off all my gear to talk with whoever is working to get my emissions tested,” Johnston said.

He added that it is even more inconvenient that most emission-testing sites in the state are separate from Motor Vehicle Division offices.

Johnston would welcome a testing exemption for motorcycles.

“I don’t remember ever doing it when I was in San Diego,” where he was stationed with the military, Johnston said.

Besides accounting for a small portion of the vehicles on the road, Baggiore also noted that most motorcycle drivers do not drive their bikes all year round, which is particularly true in the Valley.

“When it’s summer and 120 degrees outside, you don’t see many motorcycles out on the road,” he said.