Washington state to end vehicle emissions test program in 2020

Washington is ending its state emissions test program in 2020, claiming that it’s no longer needed following a 15-year phase-out process.

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The state first began to phase out emissions testing after the Legislature passed a plan in 2005 to phase it out completely by 2020.

"Despite the end of mandatory emission testing, we believe air quality will continue to improve in the years ahead as newer, cleaner vehicles replace older, less-efficient models," said a news release from the state Department of Ecology.

Since 1982, an emissions test has been a yearly requirement to renew registration for a vehicle in certain counties. After 2020, it will no longer be necessary.

For registrations expiring in 2019, vehicle models from 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008 will still need an emissions test in order to renew, excluding motorcycles, Toyota Priuses, Honda Insights, and vehicles over 25 years old.

Within those requirements, testing is mandatory in 2019 for these zip codes in Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane County.

According to the Department of Ecology, the emissions testing program’s end was contingent on Washington’s air quality meeting certain thresholds.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required that Washington’s air quality not just meet federal standards, but that we can demonstrate that we’ve reached a point where our air quality won’t worsen without the emission check program in place,” said the state DOE.

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After 2020, that will be one less thing for drivers to worry about during the registration renewal process. It remains to be seen if the exorbitant price of car tabs will remain by then, with $30 flat rate car tabs on the ballot in 2019.