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Lawmakers eye an end to vehicle emissions testing in the Treasure Valley

A photo with a line of cars on the interstate.
Idaho Statesman
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Idaho Statesman

Drivers in the Treasure Valley may no longer need to test their vehicles’ emission output starting next year.

A state Senate committee Tuesday approved a bill that would eliminate vehicle emissions testing in Ada and Canyon counties by the end of 2022.

Sen. Lori Den Hartog (R-Meridian) said air quality in the Treasure Valley has been improving since the first emissions testing was implemented in 1984.

“We have newer vehicles on the road. Those produce fewer emissions,” Den Hartog said.

New models of cars, trucks and SUVs are manufactured with higher emission standards. Idaho law also exempts vehicles less than five years old from testing.

Den Hartog said that higher numbers of electric vehicles have also helped cut these air pollutants.

The program originally targeted carbon monoxide levels that exceeded federal standards.

Jonathan Oppenheimer, a lobbyist for the Idaho Conservation League, agreed the valley is moving in the right direction.

But, Oppenheimer said, “We remain concerned that it’s premature to remove some of these requirements.”

Specifically, the area’s ozone levels are above federal recommendations. Ozone can cause breathing problems and exacerbate conditions like asthma.

Should the Treasure Valley’s air quality deteriorate after ending the program, Oppenheimer warned that could subject Idaho to further federal rules and mandates.

If approved, the bill would require lawmakers to sign off on creating new clean air groups to tackle any potential future issues.

Sen. Melissa Wintrow (D-Boise) expressed some concerns about the bill, including how increasingly larger and more frequent wildfires are deteriorating air quality here and across the state. Wintrow ultimately voted for it.

The proposal now heads to the full Senate for consideration

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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