Texas Bill Revives Emissions I/M Debate
ASA opposes program changes.
Legislation recently introduced in the state of Texas has awakened the emissions inspection and maintenance (I/M) debates of years past.
The legislation in Texas (Senate Bill 888), offered by state Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-19), dilutes the current I/M program. The bill includes provisions requiring that the state inspection and maintenance program must apply to gasoline-powered vehicles between five and 25 years old. This would change the initial inspection from two to five years for passenger cars sold in the state and not previously registered in Texas or another state. If this bill becomes law, it will take effect September 2013.
The Automotive Service Association (ASA) opposes Senate Bill 888. ASA believes the initial five-year exemption for vehicles is too long.
According to the U.S. EnvironĀmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Vehicle inspection and maintenance programs help improve air quality by identifying high-emitting vehicles in need of repair (through visual inspection, emissions testing, and/or the downloading of fault codes from a vehicle’s onboard computer) and causing them to be fixed as a prerequisite to vehicle registration within a given non-attainment area. The 1990 AmendĀments to the Clean Air Act made I/M mandatory for several areas across the country, based upon various criteria, such as air quality classification, population, and/or geographic location.”
According to the U.S. EPA, approximately 39 percent of toxic air pollutant emissions are from mobile sources. Mobile sources contribute approximately 60 percent of national carbon monoxide emissions. EPA studies have determined that 123.8 million Americans live in counties with air quality concentration levels above the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).
For independent repairers, the emissions service information provisions of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA), highlighted by the Right to Repair issue at the state and federal levels, have overshadowed I/M policy discussions. After the 1990 CAAA were signed into law, this was not the case. The dominant public issue for independent repairers was emissions testing. This debate included centralized versus decentralized testing, remote sensing, ping pong repairs/testing in some states, etc. The repair community was divided over centralized versus decentralized emissions testing.
Today, the tests – including the frequency of testing – vary from state to state. To review state I/M programs, go to www.TakingtheHill.com.
Inspection and maintenance slipped from the public eye with the Right to Repair legislation distraction while vehicle safety inspection became the whipping boy in numerous states, including New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Missouri and North Carolina, etc.
ASA has spent a great amount of resources in support of state safety inspection programs. Less than half the states have safety inspection programs. Although we have seen state and federal legislation offered that expanded safety inspection programs, this is not the trend. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not been vocal in promoting safety inspection programs despite industry interest and some encouragement from the Congress, making the opportunities for new programs very limited.
Inspection and maintenance has not been at the center of the public policy discussion for a number of years. The Texas legislation resurrects some of the I/M debates of the 1990s. Independent repairers see firsthand the condition of vehicles on American’s highways. This includes how much damage they are doing to the environment and how safe these vehicles are for passengers and others on the highways. The EPA revised the basic I/M performance standard for areas newly required to implement a basic I/M program as a result of being designated and classified under the 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) in 2006.
Texas repairers are encouraged to go to www.TakingtheHill.com and send a letter to their legislative representatives in opposition to Senate Bill 888. A number of Texas repairers have already contacted their representatives, asking them to prevent the dismantling of their I/M program.
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