Su Lum: Emissions tests, may they R.I.P.
February 17, 2004
Hooray for the demise of the wretched emissions tests. This should be a big boost for the county coffers when all the scofflaws using fake Eagle and Garfield County addresses (including, in the distant past, a city councilperson) start registering their vehicles in Pitkin County again.
If we had any data showing that these tests are actually improving our air quality it would be a different matter, but we don’t have the data. I thought that ever since the dreaded PM10 issue came up years ago we were monitoring our air on a regular and thorough basis, so I was surprised (shocked would be a better word) to learn otherwise.
First things first. Monitor the air and, if the data proves the premise, THEN propose an emissions test program ” one that doesn’t stop with Pitkin County. We could put up roadblocks like those weighing stations for big trucks and if you don’t pass the test you don’t get over the border. That would reduce traffic into town and there would probably be a lot of bidders for the checkpoint gig.
One thing I’m quite certain about (I hope) is that the emissions tests weren’t instituted to generate revenue either for the garages and quick-lube places who conduct the tests, or for the peripheral businesses into which the hapless testees might wander during their endless waits in the long lines at the testing stations.
The mass defection to establish addresses in other counties was not to avoid the $25 emissions test fee, or to try to sneak a reeking vehicle around the law, it was to avoid the HASSLE. You can’t make an appointment, it is first-come, first-served and can take a half hour, two hours ” you have no way of knowing.
And for what?
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It is probably a little-known fact, but if you have a really gross rolling pollutant of a car that couldn’t pass the emissions test if it were blessed by the Pope, you can still drive in on the roads of Pitkin County with a special exemption sticker. I know this because, several years ago, I had such a car.
My car flunked test after test, remedial measures were taken and it flunked again. Finally one of the testers said I should apply for special dispensation. This is a loophole (in my mind, a relief) that basically says that if no one can figure out why your car can’t pass the emissions test, and if you have invested a significant amount of money (I don’t know what it is now but I think then was in the area of $250) to rectify the problem, you get a pass ” I think it was a three-year pass.
It sounded good to me at the time, but how does this policy advance the myth that we’re cleaning up polluting vehicles? The worst ones are still on the road, the newer models that will pass anyway have to wait in those endless lines (I will not say one word about the possibility of their being tapped for “other repairs” for problems discovered during the testing process), and anyone who has any sense avoids the whole issue by registering out of the county.
[Su Lum is a longtime local whose Beetle is registered in Aspen not because she’s such a good citizen but because she’s too lazy to go where others have gone before. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times]
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