NASHVILLE – Legislation that would end mandatory emissions tests for vehicles in Tennessee has been filed in the Tennessee General Assembly. Senate Bill 2656, sponsored by Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson), Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) and Representative Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah), would apply to Hamilton, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson or Wilson Counties where the test is still required prior to vehicle registration or renewal.
The 1990 Federal Clean Air Act required the State of Tennessee to develop more restrictive regulations to control air pollution from mobile sources in counties which were not meeting the Federal Standards for air quality. In August, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced that the entire State of Tennessee meets federal air quality health standards.
“Vehicle owners in these counties should not be penalized as the standards have been met,” said Senator Watson. “Emission testing is not only time-consuming, but has costs attached, which are especially hard on low-income families. This legislation would relieve this burdensome regulation for citizens in these six counties.”
Emissions testing is done on vehicles with a model year of 1975 and newer if they are powered by a gasoline or diesel engine and weigh up to 10,500 lbs. Over 1.5 million vehicles went through emissions testing in Tennessee last year in the six counties where it is required.
“The idea that we have to choose between clean air and placing costly, burdensome regulations on Tennessee’s working families is a false choice,” added Rep. Carter. “I reject it. Vehicle emissions testing is a perfect example of a well-intentioned government program with harmful, unintended consequences for Tennessee’s middle class. Frankly it has outlived its usefulness. I’ll be happy to see it go.”
“The people who can least afford it are being penalized,” added Sen. Gardenhire. “Most of our automobile pollution has been from truckers and cars passing through Hamilton County, which we have no control over. We are hopeful that we have the support to pass the bill this year.”
The bill now goes to the Transportation and Safety Committee in the Senate and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the House of Representatives for consideration.