EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) had developed clean automotive technology and state of the art testing to help prevent air pollution, even if a ZEV or Zero Emissions Vehicle is a long way away (it’s not quite the same as an electric vehicle, see below).
The regulations around vehicle inspection are all over the place. Some states require periodic safety inspection, some states require safety inspection upon sale or transfer. Some states require a safety inspection when registering from elsewhere (different state or country), for instance Maryland and Alabama.
It seems that most states are on the side of the businesses, they don’t require inspection tests at all. States such as Minnesota and Kentucky have removed their tests and other states may follow suit. The tests might be unpopular but having them is better for the environment than not having them.
California set the strictest standards of all, with legislation that predated the 1970 Clean Air Act. California’s new laws weren’t that popular with the automobile industry as a whole, to put it mildly, even though some feel it should be the standard for all states.
The rules for heavy duty vehicles are very strict-requiring ultra-low sulfur diesel – 15 ppm (parts per million).
Around the World in two Paragraphs
It’s not a problem confined to the US. In 2009 a regulation said that all new passenger cars should have 130 grams of CO 2 as a target, but it was finally phased in as late as 2015. It seems as if many countries are slow to catch up to the emission standard and in 2021 they are due to change again.
In a perfect world, all vehicles would be zero emission, but we have not got there yet. A Google search of Zero Emission Vehicles will produce a list of low emission cars such as Audi or Mazda. However, if a car is recharged from fossil fuel, it cannot be called a ZEV.
The problem is further exasperated by hybrids being sold as ZEV – the problem is does anyone know or care if it’s being run on electrical power or not after it is sold? There’s something is suspiciously wrong with the classification here.
Fuel Cell Vehicles may be considered the better of the low emission vehicles as they run on cells powered by Hydrogen, rather than traditional methods. They work by transforming the Oxygen in the air. Even these type of car rely on a natural gas power, so more fossil fuel. It does seem a bit of a battle here to change the status quo.
Changing the Status Quo
Low emission zones in certain towns and built up islands may be one way to fix it as long as they are enforced strictly. The larger vehicles, such as trucks have the toughest rules, but it doesn’t mean that SUVs aren’t a problem. Some areas are imposing a diesel surcharge and you might wonder if companies would rather pay the charge than alter the fleet of trucks. Legislation can only go so far.