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State Senate Approves Bill To End Emissions Testing For Newer Vehicles

HARRISBURG (KDKA) - The state Senate has just approved a bill that could end vehicle emissions testing for some vehicles in Pennsylvania.

Since the 1990s, Pennsylvania has required all gasoline-powered vehicles, except motorcycles and antique vehicles, to be tested in 25 counties each year for polluting emissions from the tailpipe.

On Tuesday, the state Senate voted to end this program for many vehicles.

"It's time to end the test," Pennsylvania Sen. Wayne Langerholc told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday. "This is an issue that has been a top legislative priority for many years, actually since I was elected to the Senate in 2016. It's probably one of the biggest issues. I mean, I can't go to the grocery store or one of my daughter's cheerleading competitions or cross-country meets without someone telling me, I hear about it weekly: 'why do we still have to pay that emissions test, why do we still have to do that?'"

Langerholc, a Johnstown Republican, is the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. He just won Senate approval for his bill, SB 777, to end the vehicle emissions test for newer vehicles manufactured within five years of the test date.

"It's about common-sense legislation, but more than that, it's about rewarding the counties that have improved their air quality," says Langerholc.

Langerholc says many vehicles on the road today never fail the emissions test.

"From 2010, the newer models have passed the emissions test 99.65 percent of the time," the senator says.

Under current law in this region, many counties are already exempt from the emissions test, but vehicles registered in Allegheny, Beaver, Washington and Westmoreland counties still must be tested each year at a cost of $35 to $40.

State environmental officials worry that this bill, if enacted, could cost the state federal funds with Neil Shrader with the Department of Environmental Protection telling KDKA, "Vehicle emissions inspections are critical to complying with the federal Clean Air Act's air quality standards. Waiving these inspections would also take away revenues for road/bridge repairs."

Langerholc says his bill will not cost the state federal dollars.

"There is a provision in the bill that if that is an issue, this will not become effective," he said.

While the Senate has passed this bill at least twice now, the state House has not. Another hurdle: Gov. Tom Wolf opposes this bill, at least as it is currently written.

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