Thursday, October 30, 2008

5th Anniversary of the demise of VET in Jefferson Co. (and then, Southern Indiana)

On Saturday, we're having a party (and press conference) in Louisville to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the end of “vehicle emission testing” (VET) in Jefferson County, Kentucky in 2003. (Soon afterwards, Clark and Floyd counties in Indiana ended their VET as well.)

I did research on the benefits and costs of VET in Jefferson County, published articles on the subject, and testified before the relevant sub-committee of the Kentucky State Senate.

I found that the money, time, and pollution costs of VET were tremendous when the regulation was imposed uniformly on all vehicles. Newer vehicles rarely failed the test—and so, the dollar and time costs of the program were far greater than the modest improvement to the environment.

I did not categorically oppose all forms of VET, but found that the uniform implementation led to inequities and vast inefficiencies. The “waiver” provision also limited the program’s ability to improve the environment. (Auto owners with failed cars could simply a certain amount of money without improving their car’s performance.)

I also argued that annual, stationary testing is prone to abuse (people can rig their cars to get through the test) and necessarily misses out on problem cars (those who didn’t live in the Louisville metro area and were not tested). Instead, I recommended “mobile (emission) testing” which is far cheaper per vehicle and far more effective in catching high-pollution cars.

Since the government was unwilling to add finesse to its program, they decided to drop it. Although something smaller would have been defensible-- and perhaps optimal-- the world is a better place without the old version of VET.

Update: a blog entry by the C-J's James Bruggers (if that link doesn't work, try this one)


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