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Emissions Testing In Washington Ends With The New Year

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

With the end of the year approaching, the state of Washington is singing “Auld Lang Syne” to its vehicle emissions testing program.

The program has been around since 1982, in the case of Seattle, and 1985 in Spokane. But the legislature has taken its cue from the state Department of Ecology, which says the testing is no longer needed, and formally ended it.

“We’re pleased to say the whole state meets air quality standards and we think air quality will continue to improve because our state requires new cars to continue getting cleaner," said Andrew Wineke, a spokesman for Ecology's air quality program.

Wineke says the state hasn’t been testing new cars for the last 10 years. So the number of cars receiving regular emission checks has fallen from 1.3 million to about 750,000 last year.

Even though the formal testing program is gone, he says vehicle owners still have an obligation to keep their cars running efficiently.

“It’s illegal to run with modified equipment and it’s illegal to drive around smoking," he said. "You can still get a ticket for that and, even without the emissions testing program, you should do your part to protect air quality.”

Wineke says the company that owns the emissions testing sites has already begun making plans to sell some of the properties.