Why is it that all 50 states in our country has different auto emissions laws? Each state government is free to decide whether to require vehicle safety inspection and only metropolitan areas whose air quality does not meet federal standards are required to implement vehicle emission inspections. Thus, only 18 states and D.C. have a periodic (annual or biannual) safety inspection program. Sure, the Federal Government tells automakers what kinds of emissions they don’t want coming out of their cars, but every state has their own version of what is “OK”. For instance, I lived in CA for almost 15 years, and they have the most stringent emissions policy of any state. If your car is not in tip-top shape, you won’t pass inspection…period. No if’s, and’s, or but’s in California, as they were working hard to clean their air after years of letting pollution build up. And if you buy a new car in California, chances are that you will be buying a car labeled as PZEV (Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicle) or something similar. The Subaru Forester I bought new in 2008 is a PZEV car and won’t have trouble meeting any emissions test it could possibly come up against.
However, I had no need for it here in New Mexico, as there are absolutely NO emissions requirements or tests anywhere outside of metro Albuquerque. None. Your car burn enough oil to kill everyone driving behind you? That’s fine in 99% of the state of New Mexico, which makes me very upset. I have occasionally had to stop my car and wait a bit because the car in front of me was making it hard for me to breathe – it can be that bad!
I see more cars here than any other place I have ever been to with all colors of smoke coming out of them, multiple burnt out lights, and broken suspensions. And there is not a single test to get these cars in better operating condition, which just means worse MPG numbers and more pollution…not a recipe for a healthy environment, and New Mexico is by no means alone in this.
I have lived in 4 states and about to move to my 5th, and all of them (save New Mexico, of course) have had pretty tough inspections and emissions testing. Massachusetts, Virginia, California, and my soon-to-be new home of Colorado all have requirements on getting your car tested before you can register it in the state. This is the good news. However, as I mentioned above, only 18 states have state-wide required testing and inspections, and this needs to change asap. We are in a time of quickening environmental damage from our emissions, and the automobile is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gasses. So…What will it take for our Federal Government to step in and require standardized testing and inspections in all 50 states? I don’t know, but I sure hope we can figure it out sooner rather than later.
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