Will Metro drop its vehicle emissions testing program?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — For years residents of Davidson and the surrounding counties have had to do emissions testing of their cars before renewing their license plates.

Starting January 14, 2022, the surrounding counties will no longer need to do that. But Davidson County will continue for now.

On Tuesday, Metro Councilman Kevin Rhoten filed a petition for Davidson County to drop its testing, as well, noting that the environmental protection agency has given them the green light to do so. But we would have to stay within certain EPA standards for automobile pollution.

Ozone is the number one culprit resulting from automobile emissions. The federal standard is 70 parts per million. Middle Tennessee is at 65 to 66 parts per million.

So the question is: will we exceed that standard if we quit emissions testing?

“The Environmental Protection Agency has national ambient air quality standards,” explained John Finke, Metro Public Health Department Director of Air Pollution Control. “Those are health-based levels that we try to protect. The current standard for ozone is 70 parts per billion. And the Middle Tennessee area is at 65 or 66 parts per billion. So, we’re right there at the standard. Vehicle emission inspections going away will increase emissions. It will increase the pollution in the air. But we don’t know that it will increase it enough to cause a violation of the national ambient air quality standards. The modeling done by the state does not indicate that that will happen.”

So, what will happen if Davidson County drops emissions testing and the levels exceed the federal standards?

The answer right now is that we don’t know.

Should the standards be exceeded, and if testing is required again, surrounding counties may have to resume testing, as well. Also, the properties for testing stations would have to be located and purchased to re-build.

“This is a very difficult decision that needs to be made,” Finke said. “We’re just trying to provide the council with as much information as we can to make sure it’s a well-informed decision.”

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