by Marc KovacCapital Bureau ChiefColumbus -- Two Republican Senators say they won't support any version of the state's two-year operating budget if it includes a continuation of current auto emissions testing required in northeast Ohio. Republicans Kevin Coughlin, from Cuyahoga Falls, and Tim Grendell, from Chesterland, told reporters May 16 that the E-Check program in effect in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit counties is inefficient and ineffective and that there were better options for meeting federal Clean Air requirements. Coughlin said the last biennial budget called for the E-Check program in northeastern Ohio to cease at the end of 2007. But, under the governor's proposed two-year budget (and included in the House version of the appropriations bill), the program would be extended another two years. The extension would add $60 million to the $200 million already allocated to Envirotest Systems, the firm contracted to do the work. Grendell said a majority of the cars tested don't have emissions problems. For those that do, the existing system does not ensure polluting vehicles are removed from roadways; violators need only spend $300 to try to fix the problem. "We are inefficiently spending Ohio taxpayer and public dollars to test 100 cars to find one to three cars that require some level of remediation," he said. "These aren't cars that are polluting the air," Coughlin added. "Obviously, it's not a problem. We shouldn't be hassling people." Grendell and Coughlin also said federal guidelines allow the state some discretion in dealing with emissions issues. They said other states have adopted more efficient measures for reducing emissions -- Colorado, for example, uses a remote sensing system. A radar-gun device is used to test vehicles' exhaust as they are moving along roadways; letters are sent to the license plate-holders of those found with levels that are unacceptable. Ohio' public resources would be better used planting trees or supporting more scrubbers on industrial facilities' smoke stacks than on the current emissions program, Grendell added. "That would be a much better contribution to air quality," he said. "There's many other ways of addressing this issue." Marc Kovac is the Dix Newspapers Capital Bureau chief. E-mail him at