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Federal File: Visual aids; Impact-aid marathon

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Approximately 15,000 school districts should have received Earth Day gifts from the Environmental Protection Agency: videotapes instructing students on how the proper operation of automobiles can cut air pollution.

The tapes were not produced with federal funds, but they weren't exactly donated, either.

They were financed and distributed by arco as part of a settlement with the e.p.a., which cited the company for violations of regulations requiring a phasing out of lead in gasoline.

The videotape, aimed at high-school and junior-high students, discusses the environmental consequences of the use of fossil fuels, pollution-control devices, and the "air-quality impacts" of certain driving styles, according to an e.p.a. announcement.

"Such practices as 'cruising' at slow speeds and idling engines at drive-in facilities" are singled out as causes of polluting exhausts, the agency said.

Schools were to receive their tapes in the week preceding Earth Day, which was celebrated April 22.

A record may have been set on Capitol Hill last week, when about 40 lawmakers appeared before a House Appropriations panel in support of impact-aid funding.

Impact aid, which goes to districts whose local revenue sources are limited due to the presence of federal property or workers, does not have the widespread political popularity of a program like Chapter 1, whose funds find their way into most, if not all, Congressional districts.

Each year, therefore, the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools recruits members of Congress to testify before their colleagues about the importance of the program.

John B. Forkenbrock, the association's executive director, said an Appropriations aide warned him months ago that the group had better produce a good showing this year and intimated that last year's turnout of more than 20 witnesses had been insufficient.

"I took that as a challenge," Mr. Forkenbrock said, adding that concerns about the effect of the impending closure or cutback of 91 military installations may have helped.

The association's response filled an entire afternoon for the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The lawmakers were set to talk about impact aid from 2 to 4:30 P.M., scheduled at five-minute intervals with two witnesses in some slots.

"My boss supports impact aid, but not enough to sit through that," an aide to one subcommittee member commented.--jm

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