Vehicle emissions testing readies for rehab
By Mark Schiele
Car owners might be happy if the Pennsylvania vehicle emissions reform package, approved by the state senate recently, goes through.
Local repair shop owners, maybe not so much. In fact, it might impact them a lot.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” said Robert DeMeno, owner of Magnum Auto and Truck Inspections on Township Line Road in Skippack.
Here are the details of the package, which was spearheaded by Senator Kim Ward (R-39), who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, and Senator Wayne Langerholc (R-35).
The reform measures would exempt newer vehicles, change the annual emissions testing to a two-year testing requirement for subject vehicles, and remove some counties meeting or exceeding air quality standards from the testing requirement.
Similar reforms passed in California, which has more stringent vehicle emissions standards than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other jurisdictions that join Pennsylvania in the federally-mandated Northeast Ozone Transport Region.
In Montgomery County, the cost for emissions testing is $50 (pass or fail) as part of the annual state procedure, which includes safety inspections (aka state inspection) at an additional cost.
As for repair shop owners, the price of the testing machines can cost between $5,000 and $6,000 each, not including other monthly fees and, in some cases (of older models of the machines) an additional cost for gasses the machines must use for emissions inspections.
That’s a huge investment, especially for mom-and-pop businesses, some of which must take out loans to cover the cost.
DeMeno said he thankfully rents his emissions testing machine, as protection against state emissions rules eventually being changed, as proposed by the Senate.
“If the program changes, I can drop it,” he said. “That’s why I did that. Even so, in the long run, it will hurt me. From (collecting charges) once a year to once every two years, I’d feel it.
“But if I paid $6,000 for a new machine, and this (came into effect), yeah, I’d wouldn’t be too happy. Let’s say that.”
The bill was sent to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
“There’s a lot to consider,” DeMeno said. “People might save some money. But it’s also a safety and health concern. You want safe cars on the road.”