Emissions Testing Ending March 1 In Anchorage

No more emissions tests in Anchorage. That was the decision of the Anchorage Assembly at its meeting Tuesday evening.

The once federally mandated emissions, or IM, program required drivers to pay for a $60 to $70 dollar vehicle emissions test every two years. The Environmental Protection Agency approved ending the program in January, saying it was no longer needed to protect air quality. The Assembly agreed to phase the program out in six months. But mayor Dan Sullivan proposed ending IM testing early.  And he got his wish, when the Assembly voted to end testing at their meeting late Tuesday evening.  But not before testimony from concerned business owners, including Richard Klein.

“We were told that we had six months after the EPA made their answer to Anchorage to end the program. We were told that and I’d like to start off that you promised us, the IM industry, that we would have the six months. You should honor your vote. You should honor what your told us. We’re business people, we have to make decisions ahead of time,” Klein said.

While business owners complained, Mayor Sullivan called the program, “government bureaucracy at its absolute worst,” and claimed if it went six more months it would require 45,000 cars be tested at a total cost of $3 million for drivers. Assemblyman Paul Honeman, who is running against Sullivan for mayor, said Sullivan was merely pandering to voters during an election year. Some questioned the addition of a Municipal tax that was added onto vehicle registrations just as the emissions test was being eliminated. Assembly member Harriet Drummond confirmed the tax had been added.

“70 dollars minimum on an 8-year-old car or older and sliding scale up to $150 for a new car, every two years. This is on top of the IM test (this goes to the city, right). That’s right. The state collects it and then gives it to the city,” Drummond said.

The municipal tax was added to vehicle registrations in January. The assembly voted 6-5 to eliminate emissions testing early. The program ends March 1.

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Daysha Eaton is the News Director at KBBI in Homer. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.