Sumner County drivers will no longer be required to have their vehicles tested for emissions beginning Jan. 14, 2022, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced on Tuesday.
Sumner is one of six counties that require emissions testing prior to registering or renewing the registration of a motor vehicle.
The five other counties that have required the testing are Hamilton, Rutherford, Williamson, Wilson and Davidson counties. Davidson County is the only county that has opted to continue the testing.
The 1990 Federal Clean Air Act required the state to develop more restrictive regulations to control air pollution from mobile sources in counties which were not meeting the federal standards for air quality.
TDEC announced in August 2017 that the entire state met federal air quality health standards.
In the following legislative session, the General Assembly passed a law eliminating vehicle emissions testing in the state 120 calendar days following approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA’s approval of a revision to the state’s air quality plan was published in the Federal Register on Aug. 17 and becomes effective 30 days later on Sept. 16, according to TDEC.
Since the law states the elimination of vehicle emissions testing is effective 120 days after the EPA’s approval, the program will end Jan. 14, 2022. Those registering their vehicles on or before Jan. 13, 2022 will still be required to get the vehicle emissions test, TDEC says.
Gallatin Sen. Ferrell Haile co-sponsored the legislation in 2018.
“This action is long past due as we have cleaner car technology and Tennessee met air quality standards years ago,” said Haile. “This is a very burdensome regulation which costs citizens time and money. It is especially burdensome on low-income Tennesseans, some of whom must have expensive car repairs that have nothing to do with emissions, but rather electronics. I am very pleased that we will finally have relief from this requirement.”
Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, co-sponsored the legislation in the House.
“Emission testing is not only time-consuming for taxpayers, but also completely unnecessary,” he said. “Today’s vehicles are environmentally cleaner than ever before and Tennessee’s air quality is exceptional. I’m very proud we have finally eliminated this obsolete test that put a terrible burden on lower income families and small business owners by forcing them to pay for needless repairs. “
According to TDEC, the EPA determined that the removal of vehicle emissions testing in Tennessee is consistent with the federal Clean Air Act and all applicable regulations.
“This decision by the EPA is a major step that means an end to mandatory tests of vehicles for many Tennesseans,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said. “It’s a recognition of the improvement of our state’s air quality and demonstrates the diligence Tennesseans have shown toward achieving and maintaining this goal.”
An emissions test in Sumner County currently costs $9. The county receives $1 of that, while the state and the company that conducts the testing, Enviro Test, receive the remainder, according to Sumner County Clerk Bill Kemp.
Kemp, whose office collects the $80 motor vehicle registration fee, said customers will be happy to skip the testing.
“A lot of complaints we get are about emissions testing and the long lines they often have to wait in,” he said.
Kemp said he doesn’t expect the lost revenue to negatively impact his office, noting collections are up due to growth across the county.
“We anticipate it may dip some, but in total revenue it won’t be significant,” Kemp added. “We expect the amount we collect in title fees, registration fees, etc., will more than make up for it.”