Tennessee State Senators Bo Watson (R-Hixson) and Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) joined State Representative Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) to file Senate Bill 2656, which would end mandatory emissions tests for vehicles registered in those counties that still have the requirement.
The bill’s summary, as it appears in the legislative database reads:
Motor Vehicles – As introduced, bans counties in attainment status from entering into or renewing contracts regarding vehicle inspection and maintenance programs to maintain compliance with national ambient air quality standards. – Amends TCA Title 55 and Title 68.
Annually, over 1.5 million vehicles across the half-dozen counties of Hamilton, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson would see relief.
“Vehicle owners in these counties should not be penalized as the standards have been met,” Senator Watson said in a joint statement about the measure. “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.”
The lawmakers explain that 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,” Senator Watson continued. “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.”
State Representative Carter added, “The idea that we have to choose between clean air and placing costly, burdensome regulations on Tennessee’s working families is a false choice. 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,” State Senator Gardenhire said in the joint statement. “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 first stops on its way to a full floor vote are the Transportation and Safety Committee in the Senate and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the House of Representatives.