Vehicle owners in Tennessee may have to wait three additional years before they find out whether government officials will continue to force them to go through yearly vehicle emissions tests.
This according to The Chattanooga Times Free Press, which reported last week that everything depends on approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In August 2017, the paper said, the EPA announced all of Tennessee’s 95 counties had complied with National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and particulate matter.
“That prompted legislation by Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, and Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, to do away with the annual mandatory inspections. Passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Bill Haslam in May, the law requires Tennessee to abolish the inspections emissions but makes it conditional on EPA approval,” according to The Times Free Press.
Vehicle owners in Hamilton, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson have used the annual emissions testing for years to comply with the federal Clean Air Act, the paper reported.
“But armies of vehicle owners detest the program, citing costs, inconvenience and major expenditures to fix problems when their vehicles fail the test. Carter and Watson have pointed to the unfair impact it has on lower-income vehicle owners who face high costs to repair pollution control equipment on their vehicles,” the Times Free Press said.
“Under the law, Metro Nashville/Davidson County was given a choice on whether to continue its testing program. The Metro Council voted to keep the program.”
Officials with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation are conducting data collections and analysis to make sure eliminating the emissions testing program will not interfere with the state’s compliance with federal air quality standards, the paper reported.
TDEC officials, the paper went on to say, expect to have draft revisions to the State Implementation Plan in the spring of next year.
The State Implementation Plan will explain how Tennessee will still comply with federal law, according to The Times Free Press. TDEC officials will then begin preliminary reviews with EPA, the Air Pollution Control Board, and other state and local agencies. TDEC will also seek the rule-making changes needed during this time, according to the paper.
TDEC officials expect to submit the plan to the EPA in the spring of 2020 for review. EPA officials then have 18 months to review it, The Times Free Press said.
“Once EPA approves the plan, the program will terminate within 120 days of EPA’s approval,” according to the newspaper.
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