About two years ago, state environmental regulators announced a controversial move to close the last two vehicle emissions testing facilities in Chicago, along with two other testing sites in the suburbs.
Officials with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said the closures stemmed from a new seven-year contract with the Chicago-based company Applus Technologies to conduct vehicle emission tests for the state starting in November 2016. The agreement, officials said, would save the state agency $100 million over the course of the contract, reducing the cost of each emissions test from $6.95 to $2.85.
But a new analysis shows that the move came at a cost to hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans, with the biggest impact on low-income and minority drivers. The decision also had a negative impact on area roadways and the environment.
City vehicle owners traveled an estimated additional 1.9 million miles over the past two years as a result of the two Chicago testing sites closing, according to a recently published study. The additional travel amounts to an increase of nearly 768,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions. Put another way, those extra 1.9 million miles produced the same amount of carbon dioxide emissions as that produced by the electricity used in 115 homes in a single year, according to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.