Are Utah's Rules for Emissions Inspections on Old Cars Fair?

Jan 20, 2014

  Newer cars are a lot cleaner than older cars, but a member of the Utah Senate would like to make sure the rules for inspecting those older vehicles are being applied fairly.

If an older car won’t pass an emissions inspection, it can still be registered if the owner has spent 200-dollars trying to fix it.  Senator Mike Madsen, a Republican from Saratoga Springs, says that should apply whether the money was spent before the inspection or after it was turned down.  He raised the issue Monday with the legislative committee that reviews administrative rules.

“We have people now who are really trying to make do with less," Madsen said, "and they’re trying to keep their vehicles, and they don’t need to be doing things to their vehicles that cost a lot of money that really don’t go to any kind of safety or emissions issues.  I think we are possibly putting a burden on our citizens that is unnecessary.”

Kathy Van Dame with the Wasatch Clean Air Coalition says Madsen has a point – lower-income people tend to drive older cars.  But she says there should be a way to make the rules fair.

“In the event that the people are driving older cars that are highly polluting that they can’t fix to pass emissions inspection," Van Dame tells KUER, "then that should be paired with some sort of program to help them out financially – cash for clunkers.  These are programs that have operated in many different states and have been quite successful.”

Madsen asked legislative staffers to gather information on just how the rules are being enforced so the committee can discuss the issue at its next meeting.  That probably won’t happen until after the legislative session.