SB 1254a: Ending emissions testing in Idaho – 2022
ICL's position: Oppose
Current Bill Status: Law
Issue Areas: Air quality, Clean Air, Emissions, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
Senate Bill 1254aa, sponsored by Senators Lori Den Hartog (R-Meridian) and Todd Lakey (R-Nampa), along with Rep. Brent Crane (R-Nampa) and the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, would eliminate requirements for vehicle emissions testing in Canyon County and Kuna, and pave the way to eliminate testing in Ada County by July 1, 2023.
While we recognize that vehicle technology is improving rapidly and that Electric Vehicles are making inroads, the largest metropolitan area in Idaho still faces significant challenges with maintaining clean air.
What does the bill do?
The bill would remove requirements for emissions testing, which have been in place since 1984 in Ada County and were implemented in Canyon County by the legislature in 2008. The intent of the testing was to respond to violations of federal carbon monoxide standards in Ada County, and the threat of violating ozone pollution standards across the Treasure Valley. While some monitoring reports have shown that the levels are improving, they still exceed 85% of the standard, which triggered the need for emissions testing. It’s notable that the reports don’t count “exceptional events” like wildfire smoke and inversions.
The bill also removes language establishing a Treasure Valley Air Quality Council, and instead the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) would have to request that the legislature form Regional Air Quality Councils.
The bill relies on the findings from a study that hasn’t been completed, noting that “DEQ expect to submit that plan later this year/early 2023.” But according to the most recent monitoring report, the Treasure Valley is still above 85% of the federal standard for ozone, and the emissions testing program removes an estimated 278 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can lead to the formation of harmful ozone.
Population growth in the Treasure Valley is leading to clogged roadways, which leads to increased air pollution. As noted above, a particular pollutant of concern in the Treasure Valley is ozone, or smog. One way to reduce the amount of ozone in the atmosphere is to monitor how much carbon monoxide, NOx and VOCs are being released by cars through emissions testing.
The Treasure Valley is nearing the limit for ozone non-attainment, and vehicle emissions are one of the main contributors. Emissions testing has played an important role in keeping ozone levels down and our air clean.
That’s why ICL is concerned with SB1254aa, which would remove one of the few tools we have to keep our air healthy and clean.
If those aren’t successful, and the Treasure Valley or other regions of the state violate federally designated “non-attainment” thresholds, then federal rules and mandates would be required.