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Cache County getting serious about vehicle emissions testing

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Posted: Sunday, July 1, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 8:21 am, Mon May 4, 2015.

A mandatory vehicle emissions testing program in Cache County is increasingly looking certain.

The Cache County Council is now formally pursuing the measure, and a working group — composed of representatives from the county, Bear River Health Department and the Utah Division of Air Quality, as well as an average resident — held its first meeting Wednesday to begin hammering out how the program will function.

“Basically, we were just talking about how we do that implementation, and we talked about what would be some of the characteristics of the emissions program,” said County Councilman Craig Petersen, who is a member of the group and also sits on the state’s air quality board. “And quite frankly, what we’re thinking about right now — at least in that meeting — is that we might actually delegate the program to the (Bear River Health Department). ... You know, they’d be the managers of the program.”

Petersen added that “in most other places, this is done by health departments.”

Though the council must formally sign off on such a program, county officials feel their hands are tied, according to Petersen.

“If an emissions testing program is to be implemented, state statute gives that authority to the County Council,” he said. “So we’re the ones that have the authority to implement it. But we feel like we have to implement it in order for the SIP (State Implementation Plan) to be acceptable to the Environmental Protection Agency.”

In December 2009, Cache and Franklin counties were officially designated a single “non-attainment” area by the EPA for violating a federal air quality standard related to PM 2.5 pollution.

In 2006, the EPA toughened the 24-hour PM 2.5 standard, changing it from 65 micrograms per cubic meter to 35 micrograms per cubic meter — a move that factored into the valley’s non-attainment status.

Asked why he believes the EPA would not approve the SIP without the inclusion of an emissions testing program, Petersen responded, “Because we have to demonstrate measures that’ll bring us in compliance, and that’s kind of a centerpiece. That’s one of the main pieces that would bring us toward compliance.”

Petersen said he’s confident there are enough votes on the council to approve such a program.

“We all kind of grumble about it, but I think we recognize that the handwriting is on the wall and we have to do this,” he said. “I’ll vote for it on the grounds that I think we’re obligated to do this, (due to) the SIP and the EPA.”

Petersen added that without implementing emissions testing, the county runs the risk of losing federal transportation dollars and having the EPA impose air quality improvement measures.

“Some places have ... set the fees high enough to generate additional revenues to subsidize other programs,” Petersen said. “The County Council will not do this. There won’t be any fee charged above what’s necessary simply to pay the cost of the program.”

He added, “Secondly, our objective is to make this as inexpensive and convenient for the public as we possibly can. We’ve talked about that from day one.”

The council is operating under the notion that an ordinance implementing a vehicle emissions testing program needs to be passed by mid-August, according to Petersen. He added, however, that the details of the program “probably don’t have to be finalized” until perhaps early November.

The state air quality board will begin examining the SIP at its September meeting, Petersen said.


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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Sound_Policy posted at 1:09 pm on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    Sound_Policy Posts: 1

    I lived in LA for over thirty years and I can tell you with absolute certainty that emissions programs can be effective, when properly instituted. I moved up to Utah for the cleaner air and the ability to raise my children in an area where they wouldn't be prone to asthma due to high vehicle emissions and whether it's an endemic yet or not, I'd rather they maintain air quality than let it get worse. At the end of the year, it's a small price to pay. 4 fewer beers or whatnot.

  • RasputinJsvengali posted at 1:42 am on Fri, Jul 6, 2012.

    RasputinJsvengali Posts: 63

    Great, this means I will have to register my car in Sevier County.
    And I don't even live in Cache, or Sevier.

  • Roots posted at 7:04 pm on Tue, Jul 3, 2012.

    Roots Posts: 4108

    Something does need to be done about the air pollution, but auto emissions checks will no solve the problem. Air pollution in Cache is much bigger than that.

  • orion posted at 4:13 am on Tue, Jul 3, 2012.

    orion Posts: 5177

    Certainly a strategy is required about Cache Valley's propensity to rank #1 with the dubious distinction of having the worst air quality in the nation.

    Come on, Cache County Council, put on your thinking caps. Another treadmill program that punishes all citizens instead of a certain class of offending vehicles and/or drivers who scam the system seems to be the only alternative being considered.

    Much like speed cameras, many areas of the country are using on-road sensors that read emissions on vehicles and offenders are ticketed accordingly.

    If an emissions system is going to be implemented, let's not use an antiquated shot-gun approach that largely penalizes law-abiding citizens when a sniper-aim targeting just the offenders will do.

  • halfwit posted at 6:41 pm on Mon, Jul 2, 2012.

    halfwit Posts: 97

    It's George Bush's fault.

  • JoDeemyers posted at 9:17 am on Mon, Jul 2, 2012.

    JoDeemyers Posts: 1370

    @Toad "Cache Valley often has the worst air in the entire nation"

    Back that up, I wouldn't call once or twice in the 20 years often.

    Jessy, we all drive used cars, just sayin.

    I agree with most, this is something that's going to do nothing but raid our pocketbooks.

  • SPF posted at 9:04 am on Mon, Jul 2, 2012.

    SPF Posts: 23

    Another county tax that will not help air quality, very few vehicles will fail test and it will cost a lot of dollars in implementing program. Wasted dollars, my friend X Salt Lake County Councillman told me it was a cash cow program for them to include in budgetary spending. Lynn Lemon is out of control, I agree with many of you in the party, it is time to make a change in this position, this will be one of the rallying points, he is pushing this agenda. The council could care less about air quality, they are just looking for a way to draw in tax dollars. If they cared about air quality, they would not have approved a landfill that is 22 miles from proposed, Logan transfer station, when there was a more suitable location within 10 miles. And build a 15 million dollar road to access landfill and agricultural land. Now that's caring about agricultural land. Maybe we should do emission testing on Jon White, Gordon Zilles, and Craig Buttars TRACTORS. [beam]

  • jimbo posted at 7:44 am on Mon, Jul 2, 2012.

    jimbo Posts: 97

    Emissions testing is pointless. You will find studies done in cities where it didn't make a difference before and after it was implemented. Will Cache Valley have the program go away if it doesn't make a difference? I doubt it. It's just another tax burden, especially on the poor.

    Why it's pointless reason #1: Car companies are already making cleaner running cars as ControVersialSigh pointed out, with required catalytic converters and cleaner engines as mandated by the federal government. The majority of cars are already "clean" which makes emissions testing useless. It would only catch an extremely small fraction of vehicles, a number so small that it wouldn't help improve the air quality at all.

    Why it's pointless reason #2: There are so many ways around smog checks that shops will tell you it's a joke. The hot rodders running catless already have friends at the shops that will pass them no questions asked. The rest who have aftermarket exhausts simply install their OEM exhaust the day of the smog test and simply bolt back on the aftermarket exhaust after they've passed and drive like that the rest of the year. I know of many along the Wasatch front who do this and the same thing will happen in Cache Valley. You can even buy exhausts with fake looking catalytic converters to pass a visual inspection. For more ways around emissions testing just "Google" it, there's plenty of information out there.

    Why it's pointless reason #3: We have all of our friends from Idaho that are driving down here every single day to work, shop, etc. Because they are in a different state there's no way to keep them from driving their "dirty polluters" through our valley. Maybe we can setup a roadblock on the UT-ID border and have guards stationed there to do smog checks on all of the Idaho vehicles? If you don't pass you can't enter.

    Why it's pointless reason #4: It's the landscape and topography of the valley and mountains that is the biggest problem, not cars. Our topography won't change unless we start bulldozing the mountains away. Until then we will be stuck with a small percentage of red air days no matter what. It makes about as much sense as testing the "emissions" of cows in the valley.

    I would venture to guess that the only reason this testing is being considered is to bring in some more $$$

  • WTF posted at 7:01 am on Mon, Jul 2, 2012.

    WTF Posts: 8

    Will the county and cities get tested or are they exempt/ and if so the cost will be passed on to the tax payers. its a no win for the citizens

  • WTF posted at 6:51 am on Mon, Jul 2, 2012.

    WTF Posts: 8

    What happens when the air quality does not improve? Will they repeal the emissions program? NOT Ever. have you ever heard of the government ever reversing anything even after they tell us that it is temperary. So the air quality will stay the same and the citizens of cache County just keep on getting "MILKED" for the money they have left

  • Roots posted at 11:12 pm on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    Roots Posts: 4108

    Here's one to mull over. The EPA and Obama are finally showing their teeth. Coal-fired plants are being required to install 'scrubbers' to reduce the amount of air pollution. Mega-coal corporates are in a frenzy, thinking that they will have to spend some money from their vast hoardings. Many of the coal plants that expected to start business have now been put on hold. Here's what Bloomberg had to say about money loss.

    This article is about their losses, not ours. They are perfectly happy to threaten our health and our lives, if it means even more money for them.

    This next site discusses the pollution released by coal plants and the threats to health and life, as a result.

    I have a strong feeling that we will begin to hear how energy from coal is somehow good for us. It might mean the loss of some jobs, but what is worth more, your health and life or your job?

    Utah is currently heavily dependent on coal plants for electricity. As far as I know , all coal plants are located south of Cache.

    Just for general interest, I thought some might like to see Utah's vision for the future:

  • SPF posted at 10:31 pm on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    SPF Posts: 23

    “Some places have ... set the fees high enough to generate additional revenues to subsidize other programs,” Petersen said. “The County Council will not do this. There won’t be any fee charged above what’s necessary simply to pay the cost of the program.”. The problem with this statement, they are ready have a plan to create jobs and personnel to administer the program, and also build in admin costs to county, more money in the coffers. Lynn also has someone in mind for jobs, buddy system, look at the landfill, Darrell Gibbons was on council, stepped down and took consulting job for Logan City, to push land fill thru, and was placed on planning zoning council at same time. Watch who gets job administering emission testing. Once again not about air quality, about increasing revenue.

  • Roots posted at 10:18 pm on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    Roots Posts: 4108

    Somebody, explain to me how auto emissions check with requirements to fix the problem, is any different from regulations placed on industry to cut back on pollution and others dangerous practices??

  • jessy posted at 9:49 pm on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    jessy Posts: 36

    I agree with Roots. It is going to affect the poor. As if it wasn't hard enough just to keep a car. Yes, it would be great for air quality. But to have to get emissions testing (most families with used cars are most likely going to fail), and than if it fails, you have to fix it. Its like inspections, they get ridiculous. I don't even know how I am going to afford to bring my car up to pass an emissions testing. And I can't afford another car till income taxes next year. I wish there was a better solution.

  • Homo Sapien posted at 9:03 pm on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    Homo Sapien Posts: 1254

    Yeah. Finally emissions testing looks like it will happen. Better late than never.[smile]

  • CurlyF posted at 7:50 pm on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    CurlyF Posts: 633

    Don't forget the farting cows!

  • Roots posted at 7:44 pm on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    Roots Posts: 4108

    Valid points are being made in regard to testing for auto emissions. Newer cars do come equipped with emission controls, via mandate by the federal government. Once again, it will be the poor who are hardest hit. An emissions test would bring more money into the city coffers, no matter how much they declare they are trying to keep costs as low as possible.

    Industry emissions are most likely the highest contributing factor in particulate air pollution. Utah has little to no regulations on industry.

  • Bill55AZ posted at 2:41 pm on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    Bill55AZ Posts: 1

    If the problem is particulates, and so far that seems to be the case, then just test the diesel powered vehicles, and coal fired power plants.
    Before instituting an emission testing program on all vehicles, try random testing of diesel vehicles. Fail once, get a chance to fix it. Fail twice, take away registration and plates until it can pass the tests.
    And, test coal fired power plants....random testing throughout the year, at least once a month. Fail once, they get 30 days to fix it. 2nd failure, and the plant has to shutdown and cycle through all maintenance procedures. 3rd failure, monthly fines until the plant passes.
    Testing gasoline powered cars isn't going to change valley PM readings one bit.

  • SPF posted at 8:55 am on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    SPF Posts: 23

    Another county tax, that will not really help air quality, very few vehicles will fail test, but it will cost a lot of dollars, in testing. Lynn lemon is out of control, I agree with many of you in the party it is time for a change. The council could care less about the air quality, they just want a way to draw in tax dollars and blame it on something. If they cared about air quality, they would not have aproved a landfill, that is 22 miles from proposed Logan transfer station, when there was a site available within 10 miles. And build a new 15 million dollar road to landfill, now that will al help air quality. Maybe we should do emission testing on Gordon Zilles, Jon White, and Craig Buttars Tractors. Lynn Lemon needs to be changed for someone who will work for people, not the institution.

  • ControVersialSigh posted at 8:27 am on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    ControVersialSigh Posts: 839

    Its amazing how much political clout, one little non-calibrated sensor, a couple of days per year, and a couple of magical PM2.5 numbers can force your time, schedule, and choice of vehicle for years to come.
    Federal Standards should be implemented at a Federal level, and that level has already been mandated in the vehicles' emissions controls at build-time.
    Sticking a sensor up my car's keister is nothing more than a "by-god" attempt at satisfying some EPA throne, and a tax, especially on the poor.

  • Jake Call posted at 8:22 am on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    Jake Call Posts: 55

    I'd like to see evidence that part of our air quality problem are the cars that can't pass emissions. Most cars in the valley likely pass emissions. So we are just weeding out a tiny percentage of cars. A lot that don't pass, are cars that get used on occasion (hot rods, work trucks etc).

    Just curious, do motorcycles have to be tested also?

    I understand the predicament the council is in, there are other agencies putting the pressure on them to take measures to improve, but this is an expensive measure and will likely have no noticeable improvement in air quality.

  • DrToad posted at 8:09 am on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    DrToad Posts: 9

    It's about time. Amazingly in such a beautiful, generally pristine place, Cache Valley often has the worst air in the entire nation during winter months, when inversion holds pollution in the enclosed bowl of the valley. It's time to make sure our vehicles are as clean as possible. And the worst offenders? county trucks and school buses, as anyone who has been fogged by their diesel clouds at stop lights knows. Oh...and my neighbors (you know who you are): stop "warming up" your SUVs for a half hour in the morning! My lungs and I completely support the government intrusion of vehicle emission controls.

  • Bentley posted at 6:28 am on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    Bentley Posts: 497

    I'm not a auto mechanic (I just play one on the weekend) but the biggest perception I'll have with this besides the inconvenience, my 10-year-old car is going to fall beneath the needle and nobody's going to know how to fix it.

  • mattyandace posted at 1:27 am on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    mattyandace Posts: 55

    register them out of state and utah will loose out on the tax money lol

  • Silence Doogood posted at 12:30 am on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    Silence Doogood Posts: 4

    This is nothing more than an alternative TAX - and we are taxed enough!


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