Resolution to kill required emissions testing for cars

by Erin Ghere

The Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee is expected to pass a resolution today to eliminate mandatory emissions testing for vehicles.
And officials in the state legislature expressed certainty that the program, implemented in 1991, would meet its demise during this legislative session.
Rep. Barb Haake, R-Mounds View, the chief sponsor of the bill, said she believes the program has done its job, but is now an outdated inconvenience.
The steady decline in carbon monoxide emissions in the Twin Cities has evened out, she said.
“We have cleaner burning gasoline. (Emissions testing) is now inefficient,” she said.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released a statement earlier this week supporting the end of vehicle emissions testing because it has accomplished its task.
Since its implementation, officials estimate more than 400,000 tons of carbon monoxide have been kept out of the air.
Mechanical engineering Professor David Kittelson and graduate student Huel Scherrer presented research from a study published in 1994 on emissions testing to the committee Monday.
“In our study, we found virtually no benefit in vehicle emissions testing,” Scherrer said.
The study looked at three major intersections in the Twin Cities and what the levels of pollutants were before and after the vehicle testing began.
While pollutants fell 6 percent in each of two years following the beginning of emissions testing, newer, more efficient vehicles were credited with the drop; in fact, pollutants had been falling just as steadily in the five years before the program started.
“We need to move on from programs that are not working,” Scherrer said.
Minneapolis law firm Himle-Horner is supporting the continuation of emissions testing.
“If emissions testing is eliminated it holds some potential ramifications, not only on the environment and health-wise, but also on the business community,” said Eric Shubert, an attorney at Himle-Horner.
To those who believe the elimination of vehicle testing is detrimental to the environment, Haake said various other pollutants which are more pervasive in the Twin Cities will decrease if there is more of a focus on them.
Because the emissions test does not deal with other pollutants, it is no longer doing its job, she said.
She added that running a lawn mower for three hours produces as many pollutants as a 1,000 mile car trip.
The House Environment and Natural Resources committee is expected to hear the legislation in the next few weeks.