Editorial: EPA, emissions changes have to make sense
Pennsylvania doesn’t have the same earthquake building code requirements as California.
The state doesn’t demand you inspect your home for dinosaurs before you sell it.
It makes sense that things that aren’t a problem aren’t regulated. Even if there was an earthquake in Central Pennsylvania this week, it’s not the kind of thing that swallowed homes and broke bridges. No special building standards required.
So it makes perfect sense that the Legislature has proposed eliminating vehicle emissions testing in more counties.
There was a reason to monitor and lower the filth belched out by cars and trucks when the rules were passed, but now all it does is take money away from vehicle owners. The money doesn’t even go to the state, but just covers the cost of the test itself. The garages that perform it, however, have to invest money in expensive, specialized equipment.
For all of that, only 4% of vehicles fail a test that is only administered to those least likely to fail. Older vehicles and those that use diesel are exempt. It’s already not required in 42 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
On Wednesday, the Senate Transportation Committee passed a bill that would remove counties — including Westmoreland — that meet or exceed air quality and allow testing only every two years for other counties.
That makes sense. If the air quality is good, why keep making people pay to test newer cars that pose less problem?
What is more concerning that there are several things happening at the state and national level at the same time for the same reason that might individually make sense but together could be a problem.
Like the summer gas requirement. The more expensive, lower-polluting blend has been waived until July 1 because of a damaged pipeline, but Allegheny County is no longer required by the state and the Environmental Protection Agency to use the pricier fuel. A final decision on removing it is pending.
The reason for the change? Newer cars cause less pollution. The regulation isn’t necessary.
But last year, the federal government was talking about rolling back emissions standards for new cars, saying they were too high. This month, the EPA’s Science Advisory Board voted to review the science on the agency’s recommendations.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that the math there doesn’t add up to something good. We can’t say the cars don’t need inspection because they are better and the gas doesn’t need to be as good because the cars are more efficient and then take away the rules that make the better, efficient cars.
That just doesn’t make sense.