Harrisburg – A group of Senate Republicans, led by Senator Kim Ward (R-39), announced a package of bills today to reform Pennsylvania’s vehicle emissions testing program, also referred to as the Vehicle Emissions Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Program.
“Pennsylvania has an outdated I/M program, and we should not require costly emissions testing if counties are meeting or exceeding air quality standards first established in the federal Clean Air Act amendments of 1990,” said Senator Kim Ward who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee. “Today, an average of 96 percent of vehicles pass the emissions testing, particularly due to newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles entering the fleet. Although we are meeting or exceeding federal air quality standards and fewer vehicles are failing the emissions testing, there has not been any action in recent years to modernize the I/M program.”
On May 10, the Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing on “Exempting Eligible Counties from Vehicle Emissions Testing” and collected testimony from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Joint State Government Commission, the Pennsylvania AAA Federation, and an inspection mechanic.
Findings from the hearing paved the way for the introduction of measures from Senator Kim Ward, Senator Wayne Langerholc (R-35), Senator Pat Stefano (R-32), Senator Elder Vogel (R-47), and Senator Michele Brooks (R-50) that would:
- Exempt gas-powered passenger cars, vans, and light-duty trucks from the I/M program for the first eight years after manufacture in counties that require emissions testing.
- Change the annual emissions testing to a two-year testing requirement for gas-powered passenger cars, vans, and light-duty trucks older than eight years in counties that require emissions testing.
- Remove Blair, Cambria, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer and Westmoreland counties from the I/M program based on empirical evidence cited by the Joint State Government Commission.
- Replace the outdated tailpipe test in Pittsburgh and the two-speed idle test in the Philadelphia region with a gas cap test and a visual inspection for model year 1994-95 vehicles.
- Extend the transition date for existing emissions inspection stations who are required by PennDOT to obtain new emissions testing equipment by November 1, 2019.
“These bills are the culmination of many years of work on this issue. From Senate Resolution 168 to public hearings, to meetings with stakeholders, we have advocated for the removal of emissions testing in counties that have improved their air quality and meet national standards,” said Senator Langerholc. “We will not be deterred in our efforts, and we will continue to fight for the people of western Pennsylvania who have been saddled with this onerous requirement for far too long.”
In 1990, Congress set the requirement for a vehicle emissions testing program as part of the Clean Air Act amendments. Since then, the Commonwealth implemented several changes, including the addition of counties beyond the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions. Currently, Pennsylvania’s I/M program requires motorists in 25 counties to participate in an annual emissions testing for gasoline-powered passenger cars, vans, and light-duty trucks with a model year 1975 and newer. (Diesel-powered vehicles are federally exempt from an annual emissions testing, and other vehicles such as motorcycles are exempt in Pennsylvania.) For more information, please visit http://www.drivecleanpa.state.pa.us/.