Improving Air Quality in Washington Leads to State Contractor Cutting Nearly 120 Jobs

Chicago-based employer will lay off its vehicle emissions-testing workforce in the state by years end

December 11, 2019By Bill Conroy

Image Credit: 
Courtesy of the Washington Department of Ecology

Chicago-based employer will lay off its vehicle emissions-testing workforce in the state by year’s end

Applus Technologies Inc, which provides vehicle-emission testing services in Washington through a contract with the state, is laying off 118 employees permanently across Washington effective the end of the year, according to a notice filed under the federal WARN Act.

The layoffs aren’t good news for those affected, of course, but the job cuts are directly related to progress on the environmental front ― specifically the improving air quality in Washington.

“Washington passed a law to phase-out the vehicle emissions check program [after] Dec. 31, 2019,” Applus spokesperson Gerry Preston says. “Applus is operating the program via a state contract through the same date. The end of the contract is the reason for the layoffs.”

The law was enacted by the state Legislature in 2005. As of Jan. 1, 2020, vehicle owners no longer have to have their automobiles’ emissions tested prior to renewing registration ― although vehicles scheduled for testing in 2019 will still need the test in order to renew their tabs.

The Washington Department of Ecology (WDoE) says air quality in state has improved dramatically since emissions testing began in 1982, “and every community in our state currently meets all federal air-quality standards.”

“The combination of the testing program, advances in vehicle technology, and improved motor fuels have led to significant reductions in transportation-related air pollution,” the WDoE says.