Lawmakers looking to eliminate vehicle emissions testing

State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary — wearing traditional African garb in honor of Black History Month — presents his proposal Tuesday to the House Roads and Transportation Committee that could lead to elimination of vehicle emissions testing in Lake and Porter counties.

INDIANAPOLIS — A House committee unanimously approved legislation Tuesday that ultimately could lead to the elimination of vehicle emissions testing in Lake and Porter counties.

House Bill 1317, sponsored by state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, would require a legislative study committee to meet this summer and consider alternatives to vehicle testing that would keep ozone in the Region below the federal maximum.

Brown pointed out that Northwest Indiana ozone levels have been in compliance with federal regulations for years.

But the Region is considered by federal officials as part of the Chicago area, which is not in attainment due to a 2011 reading of one part per billion above the limit by a monitor on the Illinois-Wisconsin border. Because of this, Northwest Indiana must continue its stringent antipollution programs.

"It is patently unfair, in my opinion, for Lake and Porter County to have to go through this," Brown said.

He hopes the study committee will find ways for Indiana to demonstrate to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the Region can eliminate the vehicle testing mandate in place since 1984 without increasing emissions.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, chairman of the House Roads and Transportation Committee, said he believes such a study would prove valuable to Northwest Indiana residents — the only Hoosiers subjected to biannual vehicle emissions testing.

"Just to have a full vetting of who and why, and, quite frankly, are there alternatives that we could do that are less troublesome," he said.

Scuttling testing also would save the state approximately $5.3 million a year in testing costs.

The measure now advances to the full House for a vote on whether to send it to the Senate.

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Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.