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Vehicle emissions testing ends in Franklin County

A vehicle inspection station sign and an emissions testing sign on the wall of a mechanic in the Central West End on June 30, 2022
Rachel Lippmann
St. Louis Public Radio
Drivers with vehicles registered in Franklin County, Missouri, no longer need to get an emissions test to renew their license plates.

Missouri drivers who have their cars registered in Franklin County no longer need an emissions test to renew their license plates.

The change to the Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program took effect July 1. Testing is still required for vehicles registered in St. Louis and in St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency requires emissions testing for certain vehicles in areas of the country that aren’t meeting air quality standards. Four years ago, regulators determined that the vast majority of Franklin County was meeting ozone standards, so the state Department of Natural Resources submitted a request to end emissions testing there. Missouri’s Air Conservation Commission officially changed the regulation in January.

“Because air quality is meeting the standard in Franklin County, and emissions are projected to continue declining, we were able to make the demonstration that we didn’t need [testing] to meet those air quality standards,” said Mark Leath, the air quality planning section chief of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The continued decline, Leath said, comes from the fact that newer vehicles are built to emit fewer pollutants. And there are more and more newer vehicles on the road.

Environmentalists, however, said that while lower ozone emissions were a good thing, the state was moving too quickly.

“The U.S. EPA is moving the St. Louis region into a worse and higher category of smog pollution,” said Andy Knott, a regional director with the Sierra Club of Missouri. “So Missouri DNR should be regulating pollution more strictly now, not relaxing it.”

Leath said the DNR has the capacity to reinstate the testing program if the standards change. Nearly 80,000 vehicles in Franklin County had emissions tests in the last two years.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann 

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.