COLUMBUS, Ohio — Northeast Ohio drivers will still have E-Checks for the foreseeable future, despite the U.S. Supreme Court limiting the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The program requires Ohio residents living within Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit counties to get their vehicles tested every two years to pass regulatory emissions requirements.
"Ensuring that cars are staying under the emission standards for vehicles is really important both for the air that we're breathing, but also the atmosphere and the climate," Chris Tavenor, staff attorney for Ohio Environmental Council, said.
In 6-3 vote on West Virginia v. EPA, the conservative majority of the court said that the Clean Air Act does not give the EPA overarching authority to regulate the power plant emissions, ones that contribute to global warming.
This, however, does not include the E-Check program.
"Anyone who is hoping that this decision means that existing regulations will will go away, that's not going to happen," Jonathan H. Adler, Case Western Reserve University law professor and environmental law expert, said. "Existing regulations will remain in force."
Actually, nothing in this specific decision is going to impact programs in Ohio that are designed to comply with the Clean Air Act.
That doesn’t mean that something can’t change from our state legislature, though.
"Well, for years we've been trying to get rid of it because it's a waste of $10.6 million in the budget every year," State Rep. Diane Grendell, a Republican from Chesterland, said. "That money could be used for other things that actually did something meaningful."
Grendell proposed House Resolution 56, which calls for the elimination of the E-Check program under the Federal Clean Air Act. Her cosponsor, state Rep. Gail Pavliga, a Republican from Portage County, helped the bill get passed the House back in June of 2021.
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The resolution urges congress to remove them from the Clean Air Act and calls for the EPA to find more “effective alternatives.”
"It really is the most burdensome on the poorest of people and young students, people who need to drive to school," Grendell added.
The communities that pay the most cost are typically the ones that are most impacted by the air pollution that comes from this, Tavenor responded. It would be better to find ways to ensure that it's more accessible for those community members, he added.
Although it passed, there has been zero movement. To help push it forward, Grendell and Pavliga sent a note to Congress.
"What the EPA is likely to do is in the opposite direction of that House resolution," Adler said. "The EPA is likely to tighten those standards both to generate traditional air pollution control benefits as well as to generate benefits from greenhouse gas control."
There is still a way that you can get out of these checks.
"If people transition away from gasoline powered cars, if you start investing in electric vehicles — then you don't need tailpipe emissions checks anymore at all because electric vehicles don't have tailpipes," Tavenor said with a smile.
Until then, E-Checks are here to stay.
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