Massachusetts Caught Cooking the Books

Published September 1, 2003

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating Massachusetts for misleading the federal government about claimed reductions in automobile pollution.

The state has reported that less than 5 percent of automobiles are currently failing vehicle emissions tests, a steep decline from the 10-to-15 percent failure rate reported in past years. However, the federal government has uncovered evidence the asserted decline in vehicle pollution is actually a result of an unreported adjustment of state testing standards in 2001.

According to reports in the Boston Globe, state officials have admitted to withholding from the federal government paperwork regarding the 2001 change in testing standards.

“We did what we did and we wish we hadn’t,” said James Colman, assistant commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Massachusetts Inspector General Gregory Sullivan has pledged to look into the state’s conduct. Sullivan, according to the Globe, is preparing a report charging the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has approved the roadworthiness of thousands of cars that would have failed the pre-2001 vehicle emissions test.

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News. His email address is [email protected].