Rep. John Davis works to reduce DEQ testing burden

John Davis_thb

Rep. John Davis

Salem, OR—Late Wednesday afternoon, the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development unanimously passed HB 3443A. The bill aims to improve the Department of Environmental Quality Vehicle Inspection Program in Oregon, and reduce the cost and burden on citizens, by exempting new vehicles until they are more than six years old.  Currently, most Oregon vehicles are only exempt until their first re-registration (usually at four years).

Rep. John Davis (R-Wilsonville), Chief Sponsor of the bill commented, “This bill will reduce the burden and cost of DEQ testing for over 50,000 vehicles per year, recognizing that emissions failure rates in such vehicles are well below 1%.  We’re working to disprove the old adage that once government starts a program, particularly if it involves taking our money, the government won’t ever stop.”  The bill tracks similar efforts by other states, including Washington and Colorado, recognizing the increasing efficiency and emissions standards of new vehicles.

Currently, vehicles are tested every two years after an initial four-year exemption. DEQ reports that in 2012, 556,130 total vehicles were tested, and between 0.00% and 0.74% of vehicles model years 2008-2013 failed the VIP test.  The overall vehicle failure rate was 6.79%. The oldest model years tested (1975-1976) had the highest failure rates, topping out at nearly 50%.

Rep. Davis noted, “As vehicles become more fuel efficient to meet Federal standards, fuel becomes cleaner to meet new Federal rules, and emissions systems become more advanced, requiring 100% of vehicle owners to each spend an hour going to DEQ – when fewer than 1 of 100 fail the test – simply no longer makes sense.  This bill strikes the right balance between the benefits of environmental quality and the burdens of emissions testing.”  Davis worked with Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, environmental advocates, industry groups, and DEQ to develop the bill.

During public testimony, Davis and other legislators also encouraged DEQ to pursue new, innovative technologies including self-testing kiosks at convenience stores and mobile on-ramp testing (which is used in Colorado).  DEQ committed to studying implementing these new solutions as it improves the VIP program.