The $100 Emission Inspection Challenge

Every year around their birthday car owners in metro Atlanta are required to have their automobile emissions inspected before they can renew their car tag. This is required by the federal government purportedly to reduce pollution in Atlanta and the last time I checked the annual cost to taxpayers was between $80 million and $100 million.

Five years ago on my birthday I was so annoyed at having to spend $25 to have an emission inspected that I decided to find out if there was any evidence the millions of dollars we pay for the inspections make any difference.

I started with Google but there was no evidence on the internet. Nothing at all on the world wide web to scientifically prove metro Georgia’s emissions inspection program reduces pollution by even .000000000000000000001%. But the federal government couldn’t possibly make people waste so much money for no reason, could it?

Next I called the office of State Senator Dan Moody who represented me at the time. His staff was very nice and helpful but they knew of no such evidence themselves and referred me to a person in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The lady at the Department of Natural Resources was also very friendly and helpful but did not have the evidence I needed either. However she did refer me to a report issued by researchers at Georgia Tech which was supposed to support the tens of millions of dollars spent on inspections.

Unfortunately the report only showed that pollution levels around Atlanta were lower than they used to be. There was no evidence at all that emissions inspections had any impact nor any quantifiable result for what hundreds of millions of dollars had accomplished. You can read an article about the report here: http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/newsrelease/vehicle_emissions.htm

But despite the lack of supporting evidence I didn’t want to believe the federal government was forcing Georgians to spend up to $100 million a year for no reason so I wrote to Michael O. Rodgers, Ph.D. the Principal Research Scientist and Adjunct Professor School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology who directed the research:

Mr. Rodgers,

I am currently doing research on the effectiveness of Georgia’s emission inspection program and came across an article which sites your research. Here is the link to the article: http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/newsrelease/vehicle_emissions.htm

The article explains how your research found lower emissions in Georgia but it doesn’t really explain how a cause and effect relationship was established between the emission levels and the inspection program. Is the underlying research publicly available so I can better understand how you determined the specific contribution of the emissions inspection program.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give me in proving the effectiveness of Georgia’s emission inspection process.

Jimmy Gilvin

Dr. Rodgers responded to my request and for several weeks promised to have an assistant send the evidence I requested. We even spoke on the phone, He seemed very nice but for several weeks Dr. Rodgers would assure me the information was forthcoming yet it never showed up.

I continued to follow up on the missing report until Dr. Rodgers stopped returning my calls and I realized what I now believe to be the truth: There is absolutely no scientific evidence to show hundreds of millions of dollars in Georgia emission inspection fees have reduced pollution one bit.

So here is the $100 Emission Inspection Challenge: The first person who can demonstrate there is scientifically valid evidence that the tens of millions of dollars spent on emissions inspections have reduced pollution in the metro Atlanta area by more than .000000000000000000001% will get $100.

When a person starts with the premise that annoying federal mandates are ridiculous and based on political agendas rather than facts you will rarely be wrong. Prove me wrong in this case and I will gladly fork over the cash just to know that the federal government hasn’t really wasted more than a billion dollars of our money on a charade.

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