Diesel trucks weighing less than 14,000 pounds are not required to be tested for pollution emissions in Utah County, according to a presentation made Tuesday to the Provo Municipal Council.
Ashley Soltysiak, policy director for HEAL Utah, gave basic information to the council on pollution output and the need for diesels to be tested.
Utah County is the only county in the state that does not test for diesel pollution in light vehicles, while the county annually rates as having some of the worst air pollution in the country.
A joint resolution on diesel testing to be crafted by the mayor and council was proposed by Provo’s sustainability committee, with a hope the Utah Legislature would use it in a potential bill from Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo.
The county used to test emissions on lightweight diesel vehicles from 1996 to 2006 by sight only. That was eventually done away with.
“Diesel vehicles built in 2008 or later have much better emissions control technologies,” said Don Jarvis, Provo sustainability advisor. “That makes them nearly as clean as natural gas vehicles when properly maintained.”
Jarvis added that Utah County should require annual testing of light-duty diesel vehicles.
"Such testing should be mandated to cost the same as that for gasoline vehicles at state-certified emission inspection/maintenance facilities," Jarvis said.
Mayor John Curtis said he has talked with the Utah County Board of Commissioners and they don't want to do testing either because of a lack of government incentives or because they don't feel diesel is contributing to the air pollution.
"Diesel vehicles with tampered and/or failed emission systems are ineligible for license renewal in all populous counties along the Wasatch Front except Utah County," Jarvis said. "Owners of such vehicles from other counties have a huge incentive to sell them to buyers in Utah County, or other counties lacking a diesel emission testing requirement.
"The state DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) website on emissions testing notes in bold that 'emissions tests are not required for diesel vehicles registered in Utah County.'"
Council members said they would like to meet with the commissioners to find out their disposition before passing a resolution on the matter. The council hopes that by its Dec. 13 meeting there will be a better understanding on reasons for not have a testing program in the county.
At that point it is likely the mayor and council will resolve to support expansion of the current vehicle inspection/maintenance program of Utah County to include testing for diesel vehicles under 14,000 pounds.