I remember it vividly: The early ’90s, sitting for hours upon hours at our local “car smog test” site to have my parents’ car inspected. Living in Florida and being eight-years-old, it was more boring than math homework. And hot, as we sat for hours upon hours without A/C for our turn. Suddenly, it just stopped. Well, it seemed to just stop — I was eight. But I have found legit reasons why the nationally-based EPA has made car emissions testing a state decision, rather than nationwide.
A bit of background for those unfamiliar with the term emissions: (Take a deep breath here.) Read the EPA’s latest report titled “A Comprehensive Analysis of Biodiesel Impacts on Exhaust Emissions”. The report details which chemicals are OK to emit and which aren’t. For those who are fine just knowing that excessive emissions are bad for the ozone and not environmentally-friendly skip the read.
I’m going to get Earth-Day-is-so-controversial here and say perhaps it’s a good thing that the government passed on the option of emissions testing to individual states. While I do hate having to hold my breath against highway smog, emissions and smog-testing programs forced on states by the government were a waste of resources.
My parents would regularly pay the local emissions-testing gas station to get the “I PASSED!” sticker without a single test. I bet they weren’t the only ones who didn’t feel waiting in line in the car for hours at testing sites, especially when statistics show most counties passed current regulations. (I hope there is no Statute of Limitations, if so, sorry Mom.)
According to Florida’s DMV site, many counties allegedly registered air clean enough to make the tests obsolete, therefore just a waste of resources.
In a sharp contrast to Florida’s lax rules, California has the most stringent emissions testing regulations, initially passed in 2002. And state legislation isn’t done being strict: A proposed 2012 plan would impose even more stringent rules, which would increase the price of cars, firing up car manufacturers.
States are slowly getting the answer: Keep emissions testing a historical act—no states should implement them. But, each state should get creative and give credits to car owners with low emission rates. In fact, it’s already happening. In some Florida counties, hybrid vehicles with specific low-emission stickers can use special carpool/HOV lanes any time of day – no matter how many people are in the car. Now, that’s cool.
In addition, there are several different types of emissions reduction incentive grants, some which are provided to communities and cities to create environmentally friendly options for commuters and travelers. Often these grants include programs to purchase hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles.
There’s also the carbon credit- specifically the Carbon Credit for Emissions Reduction Programs which sets a cap on the amount of carbon (in the form of greenhouse gases) that industries can produce—a must for developing countries. Each country is allowed so many carbon credits, which are equivalent to acceptable fossil fuel emissions (specifics were determined and signed during the last Kyoto Protocol).
Florida is relaxed, California needs to relax, and even developing countries are on board with reducing emissions and improving air quality. Believe it or not, tons of low emissions programs offering incentives are sprouting everywhere. Just not through corrupt, hour-long waits to have your car tested—corrupt and easily surpassed by slipping the gas attendant a $20.
Besides, I’d choose cruising the HOV lane during rush hour in my hybrid over sweating in an old Camry for three hours in emissions test lines any day.