Process to end mandatory vehicle emissions testing could take years

Staff Reports • Updated Sep 29, 2018 at 3:00 PM

The process to end mandatory vehicle emissions testing in Wilson County could take years, despite legislation passed earlier this year to stop the requirement.

State Rep. Susan Lynn and Rep. Clark Boyd updated Wilson County residents Tuesday about the ongoing process to end vehicle emissions testing in Tennessee. 

 “Step one was getting the legislation passed, which we did overwhelmingly,” said Boyd. “Now we have to allow TDEC and the EPA to do their part.”

Last spring, members of the Wilson County Legislative Delegation co-sponsored House Bill 1782, which received unanimous support from General Assembly members, to begin the process to vehicle emissions testing with approval from the Environmental Protection Agency. Gov. Bill Haslam signed the measure into law May 15. 

“Our constituents see that this legislation makes sense, and they want to see emissions testing end,” added Lynn.

Tennessee has relied on vehicle emissions testing to improve air quality and meet federal air standards in counties that still conduct testing. Although all 95 counties have reached attainment status related to ozone, the state must maintain air quality and demonstrate to the EPA that eliminating the testing program will not interfere with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The next phase in the process is for the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation analyze whether the elimination of testing will interfere with NAAQS. This is expected to take anywhere from six months up to a year. 

If there is interference, additional measures will be required to maintain compliance. Under the scenario, TDEC would work with the Air Pollution Control Board and local governments to determine next possible steps, which would slow the process.

If no interference is found, TDEC can begin work with the Air Pollution Control Board and local governments to change a state implementation plan to lay out all measures the state uses to improve and maintain air quality in compliance with federal law. This and additional steps prior to EPA submission should take about one year to complete.

“Vehicle emissions testing is an outdated and time-consuming practice that has harmful, unintended consequences on our middle-class families,” said Boyd. “I am grateful that our measure easing cost burdens on our citizens was approved and signed into law earlier this year. I offer my full support to our Department of Environment and Conservation and our local government so that we can move quickly to obtain EPA approval and begin saving our citizens more of their hard-earned money.” 

Once the state submits its final package to the EPA, review could take anywhere from eight months to a year and a half or longer. The end of the program in Wilson County would take effect 120 days after the EPA approves the SIP amendment and final package. In instances that involve a vendor contract, it would take effect as soon as the contract allows for termination.  

“I am pleased to see TDEC take the next steps to finally end vehicle emissions testing here in Wilson County and across our state,” said Lynn. “It was an honor to fight for our working families by successfully co-sponsoring passage of this measure eliminating costly, burdensome regulations, and I am eager to continue working with TDEC, our local leaders, and the EPA to ensure this process is completed as quickly as possible.”

Lynn serves as chair of the House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee. Lynn is also a member of the House Consumer and Human Resources, House Finance Ways and Means and House Ethics Committee, as well as the Joint Fiscal Review Committee. She lives in Mt. Juliet and represents House District 57, which includes Wilson County. 

Boyd serves as a member of the House Insurance and Banking Committee. He is also a member of the House Consumer and Human Resources Committee and subcommittee. Boyd lives in Lebanon and represents House District 46, which includes Cannon, and parts of Wilson and DeKalb counties.

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