DATE:  December 14, 2007       
CONTACT: Gretchen Arnold 361.825.3070; or Cassandra Hinojosa 361.825.2337

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Pollution Prevention Partnership to Fight Air Contamination with AutoCheck Clinics

Free Tune-ups Available for Vehicles that Fail to Meet Emission Requirements

CORPUS CHRISTI – The Pollution Prevention Partnership (P3) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi will hold free AutoCheck Clinics for Corpus Christi area drivers Tuesday, Dec. 18, and Wednesday, Dec. 19.

AutoCheck is a state-of-the-art auto engine analyzer that quickly identifies vehicles that are discharging harmful pollutants into the air. When a high polluting automobile is identified, AutoCheck schedules the vehicle for repairs at a participating garage, typically with no cost to the owner.

The Tuesday clinic will be held on the city’s north side at the Joe Fulton International Corridor north of the Harbor Bridge from 1 to 4 p.m. The Wednesday clinic on the city’s south side will be from 1 to 4 p.m. at Whataburger Field.
According to P3 Director Gretchen Arnold, AutoCheck is a powerful tool that can instantly determine if your vehicle is running clean. The system is also available to businesses and community organizations that would like to host their own AutoCheck event.

“The AutoCheck program will get drivers the help they need for their automobile to run cleaner, save money on gas, and protect the South Texas air,” said Arnold. “And, by working with local auto repair facilities, the AutoCheck program can eliminate the cost of repairs for qualified vehicles.”

AutoCheck was purchased with a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) grant obtained by P3 from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The AutoCheck analyzer is able to break down the exhaust components of a passing vehicle to determine if it is running clean.

While Corpus Christi is the only industrial-based city in the United States still in attainment of air quality standards established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Arnold stresses that, without aggressive preventative action, the city could slip into non-attainment. A non-attainment area is an area that does not have good air quality and is not within EPA standards.

“Once an area is declared to be non-attainment, strict rules may be placed on the area, much like what other metropolitan cities in Texas are experiencing,” warns Arnold. “These rules may include costly vehicle inspections, losing money to build highways, businesses not being allowed to expand, and even restricted hours for construction activities.”

Arnold stresses that, since about 35 percent of air pollution is caused by cars and trucks, it is vitally important that they be well maintained. In addition to polluting as much as 25 times the amount of a clean-running vehicle, a poorly-maintained automobile costs more to drive. Tips to cut down on air pollution include:

· Visit an AutoCheck event.
· Rideshare, car pool, take the bus, walk, or ride a bike.
· Wait to fuel up your vehicle until after 6 p.m. That way, the fuel vapors do not “cook” like they can in the daytime heat.
· Drive the speed limit, accelerate gradually and use cruise control on the highway.
· Combine your errands into one trip.
· Don't top off at the gas pumps. Stop at the click.
· Replace your car's air filter.
· Keep your tires properly inflated.