Senate OKs emissions bills

Package clears first hurdle in changing program rules

HARRISBURG — A package of bills was approved Wednesday by the Senate Transportation Committee reforming Pennsylvania’s vehicle emissions testing program, also referred to as the Vehicle Emissions Inspection and Main­tenance program.

Pennsylvania’s federally-sanctioned I/M program requires motorists in 25 counties to participate in 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.

The reform measures would remove counties meeting or exceeding air quality standards from the testing requirement, change the annual emissions testing to a two-year testing requirement and exempt newer vehicles, among other changes.

“We took extraordinary action today signaling reform is needed to Pennsylvania’s outdated and onerous vehicle emissions testing program,” Sen. Kim Ward, R-Greensburg, said. Ward chairs the Senate Transportation Committee.

“Between 2011-17, only

4 percent of all subject vehicles failed the emissions test, which is attributed to newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles on our roads. When we are meeting or exceeding federal air quality standards and vehicles are not failing the emissions testing, we must modernize this program to relieve the burden on our constituents.”

“Today’s committee votes on these vital bills are the culmination of many years of work on this issue,” Sen. Wayne Langerholc, R-Johnstown, said. “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. This is the first step in the legislative process and we will continue to fight for the people of western Pennsylvania who have been saddled with this onerous requirement for far too long.”

The package of bills that cleared the first legislative hurdle will:

— Exempt vehicles newer than eight years from emissions testing.

— Change the annual emissions testing to a two-year testing requirement.

— Remove Blair, Cambria, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer and Westmoreland counties from the testing requirement.

— Extend the date for emissions inspection stations to obtain new emissions testing equipment from Nov. 1, 2019, to July 1, 2021.


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