In light of recent events, there’s been plenty of talk about emissions standards and what they mean for the average U.S. auto buyer. Sure, there are a lot of details we could dive into, and plenty of dry talk to go along with it. But that’s not what we’re looking to do here. If you look on the news, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about it. From Electric Vehicles, to scandals of epic proportions, there’s a story about emissions almost every day. So here are the basics of what it means when we refer to emissions standards.
Emissions Standards 101
Emissions Standards stem from the Clean Air Act of 1990 and are regulated by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). California is the only exception to this regulation, although it may be simply because their standards are even stricter. But what exactly are we looking for when we refer to emissions? The main pollutants associated with vehicle output are oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, as well as greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide. The goal: keep the air clean.
The EPA issues what are called smog checks, smog tests, or emissions checks on a regular basis. States vary when and how often these must be done, so it’s always helpful to check with your local DMV on that information. The EPA also publishes an emission standards reference guide for further information as well.
So now I’d like to address the elephant in the room: Dieselgate. We probably can’t talk about emissions standards without discussing this one. It’s just too big of a deal. In a nutshell, some folks at VW fudged their emissions testing results to save some money and enhance performance, and then pedaled their vehicles to the masses. Big mistake. In fact, a $1.6 Billion mistake. Ouch. Basically, emissions are no joke, and the EPA doesn’t mind letting you know it.