State legislators should get behind a push by Cambria County's senator to ask the federal government to lift an emissions inspections mandate in parts of Pennsylvania, including Blair, Cambria and Centre counties.
State Sen. John Wozniak, D-Cambria, argues that the emissions inspections are ineffectively and costly.
"Virtually all cars pass the test, and it's time to re-evaluate whether it's just a waste of money for consumers. I think the test needs to be tested," Wozniak said in a press release.
Likely, many area residents agree.
Currently residents in 25 counties in four areas of the state are required to have their gasoline-powered automobiles undergo separate emissions testing in addition to the annual safety inspection required for all vehicles in Pennsylvania. Diesel-powered vehicles, motorcycles and certain classic vehicles are exempt from emissions testing.
The type of emissions testing depends on the region - from tailpipe testing, to checking the vehicle's onboard diagnostics, to a visual inspection, to a gas cap pressure test or a combination thereof.
Vehicles registered in the other 42 counties - including Bedford, Clearfield and Huntingdon - only must have a visual inspection of their exhaust system as part of the annual safety inspection.
In the Northern Region, which includes Blair, Cambria, Centre, Erie, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming and Mercer counties, gasoline-powered vehicles must have a visual check to ensure emissions equipment is in place and must have their gas caps tested to see if fumes could escape.
The emissions testing typically costs about $40 annually.
Wozniak makes the case that many of the older vehicles that caused more pollution have been replaced and only a small percentage of those tested actually fail.
He also raises the disparity in the testing requirement, noting someone driving a Prius in Cambria County has to pay for emissions testing, while a person driving an old pickup in Indiana County is exempt.
We'd be curious how much air pollution can be attributed from leaking gasoline caps on vehicles compared with other sources.
We don't want dirty air, but we also don't want to shell out money for emissions testing without seeing whether there is truly a significant benefit, especially when big diesel-powered vehicles are exempt.
Wozniak is right in asking that the emissions test be tested for validity, and other state lawmakers should join in the effort.