Vehicle emissions testing readies for rehab

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The vehicle emission reform measures would exempt newer vehicles and change the annual emissions testing to a two-year testing requirement. (Image courtesy picpedia.org)
By Mark Schiele
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Car owners might be happy if the Pennsylvania vehicle emissions reform package, approved by the state senate recently, goes through.
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Local repair shop owners, maybe not so much. In fact, it might impact them a lot.
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“I have mixed feelings about it,” said Robert DeMeno, owner of Magnum Auto and Truck Inspections on Township Line Road in Skippack.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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That’s a huge investment, especially for mom-and-pop businesses, some of which must take out loans to cover the cost.
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DeMeno said he thankfully rents his emissions testing machine, as protection against state emissions rules eventually being changed, as proposed by the Senate.
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“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.
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“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.”
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The bill was sent to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
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“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.”
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