BOISE, ID - Canyon County is working to resolve issues surrounding emissions testing by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

On June 28, county commissioners requested alternative-fuel models, such as those capable of running on E-85, be exempt from the DEQ's required emission testing. Currently, only hybrid vehicles are exempt.

"We'd like DEQ to address this," Canyon County Commissioner Kathy Alder said, reported the Idaho Press-Tribune. "We're asking them to clarify. This is for the benefit of our citizens and county. It's expensive to use ethanol, and we want to make sure there's a value and our state recognizes this."

"The state statute outlines what is exempted and not exempted," according to Stephen Coe, DEQ's regional airshed manager. Coe said the DEQ has not explored exempting ethanol-fueled vehicles from emission testing.

"Emissions from any vehicle are highly variable regardless of fuel," said Coe. "Many factors can lower or raise the tailpipe emissions, including age and state of repair of the engine, operating temperature, ambient temperature, level of tune, fuel characteristic, etc. Lower blends of ethanol and gas are great for carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, however lower blends can produce more NOx emissions than straight gas." 

According to Mark Tolman, Canyon County's fleet manager, "These clarifications that Commissioner Alder was talking about are being addressed in an effort to proceed forward in the best interest of the counties and state as a whole."

Tolman said he is not averse to emission testing, but that the county already purchased its own emission-testing equipment a year ago.

"Our agencies have the ability and are in the process of working out solutions to this matter," Tolman told Government Fleet. "I have the commissioners' authorization to work with [DEQ] in an effort to remedy these issues together for the benefit of our state and local government as a whole."

Canyon County's fleet already has several strategies in place to cut back on emissions, including idle reduction.