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UCLA, California schools compete to host emissions lab

By Benjamin Genta

May 22, 2014 12:38 a.m.

UCLA is among a group of four California public universities competing to host a potentially $100 million motor vehicle emissions laboratory.

By having the facility on campus, UCLA officials hope to maintain collaboration with the California Air Resources Board, a government agency that works to regulate vehicle emissions and smog, said Suzanne Paulson, director of the Center for Clean Air at UCLA. Since the 1970s, the board has conducted research at its automobile test facility in El Monte, about 12 miles east of Los Angeles.

“Going forward, (the Air Resources Board) will have a lot to do with climate policy,” Paulson said. “These are all topics that many people at UCLA have interest in.”

The $100 million costs to maintain the facility would be covered by the Air Resources Board, not the schools, officials from the universities involved said.

In recent years, it has grown more difficult and expensive for the Air Resources Board to perform testing in its current location because of new advances in car technology, said John Swanton, an Air Resources Board spokesman.

In addition to UCLA, Cal Poly Pomona and two other University of California campuses – Riverside and Irvine – are also interested in hosting the emissions lab.

The universities have held separate preliminary meetings with the Air Resources Board for about a year to discuss the potential partnerships, but they are still in very early stages and no formal proposal has been made, officials said.

“We’re very early in the process of evaluating what our baseline needs are,” Swanton said. “Once we have a clear idea of what our needs are, it’ll be the appropriate time to benefit both parties.”

Swanton said this collaboration between universities and the board would allow both parties to share large resources, such as laboratories and testing facilities. The Air Resources Board wouldn’t have to build facilities that already exist on campus, and the university would have access to new test facilities that the board will build, Swanton said.

UCLA is still searching for where the facility could potentially be, since it is difficult to find open land adjacent to the university campus, Paulson said.

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