Proposed Resolution Would Continue Emissions Testing In Nashville

NASHVILLE - Some Metro council members have proposed a resolution to continue emissions testing in Nashville if and once Governor Bill Haslam signs a bill into law.

Councilwoman Burkley Allen is one of the co-sponsors of the resolution, and said getting rid of the current mandatory inspections would not be the wisest decision.

"Passing this resolution gives us the option to time this, to continue or end the program as we choose based on actual data on how we are continuing to meet emissions standards," Allen said. "We're keeping our air clean while we're making this decision and to be able to phase it out when necessary later but not to do it right now when we simply don't have the data to know if it's appropriate."

Davidson County has the option to eliminate the tests since it operates its own inspection program through the Metro Public Health Department, and not the state. 

State lawmakers recently voted to approve a bill that would eliminate mandatory emissions tests in six participating counties, including Davidson.  

As of Monday afternoon, the governor has not made an action on the bill. Even if that happens, the effects of the bill will not take effect right away.

Counties have to fulfill existing contracts with the companies that conduct the tests. Davidson County has two contracts, one of which will expire in 2022.

The Environmental Protection Agency also has to give the final stamp of approval if there are appropriate alternatives to the tests, which helps lower air pollution largely caused by vehicles.

"The resolution says we will continue our testing program as the EPA comes to every county and say, 'Ok, if you make this change what else are you going to do to show me to keep your air quality where it needs to be?'" Allen explained.

The process could take up to years.

In Nashville, there were 597,453 vehicle emissions tests in 2017.

A Metro Public Health Department spokesperson said $5.50 goes to inspection company, $2.50 goes to the health department to pay for the air program and $1.00 goes to the clerk. 

Metro receives approximately $2.1 million per year. If this resolution is not approved, this revenue would be lost. In addition, there could be an increase in health care costs from the resulting increase in air pollutants in Davidson County, according to the health department. 

The resolution is scheduled to be discussed in Tuesday night's city council meeting. The council has within 30 days to pass the resolution if the governor signs the bill. 

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