Q: It seems like it’s been several years now that the public has been told that vehicle-emissions testing would be coming to a close. Still, it persists. Will this EVER end? – Dennis L., Puyallup.
A: It was Dennis who emphasized the “ever” in his question, dear reader, not us here at Traffic Q&A headquarters.
Still, we feel his pain.
We have been forced to take time off work, or worse, burn an hour on a Saturday, to have the beat-up Honda tested to make sure it is not spewing filth into the air. And to pay for the privilege, to boot.
It’s time-consuming. It’s expensive. It’s a pain in the jalopy.
So, WILL it ever end? (Yeah, the “will” emphasis was us.)
We put the question to state Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, a Democrat who serves as chairman of the House environment committee.
“Under current law, that requirement is set to expire Jan. 1, 2020,” said Fitzgibbon, whose 34th District includes Vashon Island, West Seattle, White Center and environs. “That’s the plan if nothing else changes.”
Having been around the block a few times, we get the sneaking suspicion that something might, in fact, change between now and 2020.
But maybe that’s just us.
Fitzgibbon said nothing is immediately on the table to extend the requirement, which was implemented decades ago to cut down on air pollution in the state’s urban areas, including most of Pierce and King counties.
Lawmakers currently are trying to hammer out a two-year budget that addresses the state’s school-funding troubles, so we suspect car emissions are not on their minds.
Fitzgibbon added that any request for an extension most likely would come from the state Department of Ecology, which oversees the vehicle-emission testing program.
An email we sent to that department late last week was not immediately returned. We were not surprised. It was sunny and warm and Friday. The only thing keeping us in the office was this column.
Anyhow, we predict the emissions-testing program will become a hot topic closer to the expiration date.
Fitzgibbon said the program has succeeded in reducing air pollution but that an argument could be made that new technologies employed in cars these days might have eliminated the need for it.
“Is that still the most cost-effective way to reduce those emissions?” he asked. “That’s the question the Legislature would have to wrestle with. I’d be interested in getting some more data.”
If we were betting people, we’d lay down money on an extension.
But for now, Dennis, the answer is 2020.