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North Central Texas Council of Governments and Houston-Galveston Area Council Recognized by the EPA for Their Clean Air Initiatives

Release Date: 06/07/2011
Contact Information: Dave Bary or Joe Hubbard at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov

(DALLAS – June 7, 2011) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has honored two Texas innovators for their commitment to clean air: The North Central Texas Council of Governments’ (NCTCOG) Regional Emissions Enforcement Program for assisting local law enforcement to reduce fraudulent and illegal emissions inspections activities, and the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s (HGAC) Commute Solution Program that promotes voluntary trip reduction programs and services designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve the region’s air quality.

The NCTCOG and HGAC are among 12 organizations nationally recognized by the EPA’s 11th annual Clean Air Excellence Awards honoring initiatives that reduce pollution, promote environmental education and help citizens make better informed environmental decisions.

“Improving air quality is a priority for all of us and that is why I am pleased to recognize these Clean Air Excellence Award winners,” said EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz. “These innovative approaches are indicative of the positive difference organizations such as these can make.”

Regional Emissions Enforcement Program - North Central Texas Council of Governments

The Regional Emissions Enforcement Program was developed and is administered by the NCTCOG to assist local law enforcement in reducing fraudulent and illegal emissions inspection activities. Approximately 10 percent of vehicles are responsible for over 50 percent of emissions in the North Central Texas nine-county nonattainment area. Many vehicles failing the emissions inspection opt to display counterfeit or fraudulent inspection certificates instead of performing repairs. The NCTCOG Emissions Database (NED) was developed to provide law enforcement 24/7 access to emissions records to assist in identifying improper inspections and counterfeit certificates. NED is also utilized to perform covert investigations to determine which inspection stations are conducting improper inspections. This program has revealed issues such as counterfeit inspection certificates and vehicle inspection reports, “clean scanned” vehicles (a passing vehicle is tested in place of the failing vehicle) and simulators used in place of the actual emissions analyzers. NCTCOG also works with the Texas Attorney General to prosecute auto dealerships offering “clean scanned” vehicles for sale to the public. These ongoing collaborative efforts by the various agencies reduce fraudulent activity to reduce emissions and improve the overall quality of life for the citizens of North Central Texas.

Commute Solutions Program - Houston-Galveston Area Council

Commute Solutions is a regional partnership program in the Houston-Galveston area that promotes voluntary trip reduction programs and services designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve the region’s air quality. These programs are funded through private and federal transportation funds. Commute Solutions offers advice, answers, and assistance to employers and their employees on all commuting options including: carpooling/NuRide, teleworking, vanpooling, guaranteed ride home, mass transit, biking and walking, and alternative work schedules. The NuRide program, an incentive-based rideshare network that rewards people for sharing rides, has been one of the most successful aspects of Commute Solutions. There are 14,643 NuRide members that have reported over 30 million vehicle miles travelled reduced since 2005. The regional vanpool program is the third largest in the nation with 749 vanpools and 7,830 average daily riders. There are also 3,500 participants in the regional telework program. Commute Solutions is marketed through radio, print, and web site advertisements, outdoor billboards, and over 150 public outreach activities per year.
The Clean Air Excellence Awards recognize and honor outstanding, innovative efforts that make progress in achieving cleaner air. The awards were established in 2000 on the recommendation of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC), a senior-level policy group that advises the EPA on implementing the Clean Air Act.

More information on the Clean Air Excellence Awards is available at http://www.epa.gov/air/cleanairawards/index.html

More about activities in EPA Region 6 is available at http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region6.html

EPA audio file is available at http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/podcast/jun2011.html

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