State lawmakers are seeking to end required emissions testing in Hamilton and other counties. (Photo: MGNOnline)

Three state representatives are working to end mandatory emissions testing for area vehicles.

State Sens. Bo Watson, R-Hixson; Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga; and Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, are sponsoring legislation that would affect Hamilton, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties, where emissions tests are required before 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 that were not meeting the federal standards for air quality, according to a news release.

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In August, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced that the entire state meets federal air quality health standards, according to a news release.

“Vehicle owners in these counties should not be penalized, as the standards have been met,” Watson said in a prepared statement. “Emissions 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 made in 1975 or later if they are powered by a gasoline or diesel engine and weigh up to 10,500 pounds.

More than 1.5 million vehicles went through emissions testing in Tennessee last year in the six counties where it is required, according to a news release.

Gardenhire echoed Watson’s sentiment that the people who can least afford it are penalized by the rule.

“Most of our automobile pollution has been from truckers and cars passing through Hamilton County, which we have no control over,” he also said. “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, according to a news release.

Carter said in a prepared statement:

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.

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