A move to reduce how often newer cars need emissions tests went up in a puff of sooty smoke on Tuesday.
Cars along the Wasatch Front currently must be inspected every other year for the first six years of life, and annually thereafter. Rep. Derek Brown, R-Cottonwood Heights, originally introduced HB152 to require no testing until the sixth year of life, with a second inspection not needed until the tenth year.
It also would have exempted electric and natural gas vehicles from inspections.
However, he told the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday that he decided to drop those efforts because of concerns from state officials that it would disrupt Utah's plans approved by the Environmental Protection Agency on how to work toward meeting clean air standards along the Wasatch Front.
Still, he unsuccessfully attempted to keep one small part of the bill: capping the cost of tail pipe emissions tests at $25 and $20 for an on-board diagnostic system emissions test.
But the committee unanimously decided against that after several emissions testing shop owners testified those prices are lower than what is often currently charged, and said competition among shops generally keeps prices as low as possible.
"This was an effort to bring a little common sense to emissions testing," Brown said, noting that current law requires testing even one-year-old electric hyrbrid cars. He said testing should focus on older cars that tend to have more problems. He said he was trying to hold down costs for consumers, which is why he attempted at least to cap the costs of emissions testing.
But Andrew Gibson, an emissions tester at DJ Auto, testified that even 1 percent of new cars fail tests, and tend to have extra high levels of pollution when they do. He said federally mandated warranties fix for free new cars with such problems Â if owners find them, so testing even new cars is wise.
Another bill this session, HB298 by Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland, originally sought to eliminate the state's car safety inspection program. But under pressure from state transportation officials and repair shops, Dougall amended the bill simply to require those inspections less often. The House has approved that bill and sent it to the Senate.
That bill would require safety inspections at the fourth year of a car's life, the eighth year, the 10th year and annually thereafter. Current law requires safety inspections every other year through the eight year of a car's life, and then annually.