Henderson among counties now exempt from emissions testing

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Washington, October 1, 2018 | comments

Henderson among counties now exempt from emissions testing

By Derek Lacey 
Times-News Staff Writer 

Posted at 12:30pm

Henderson County will no longer have to conduct emissions tests as part of vehicle inspections, thanks to action by the Environmental Protection Agency this week.

The EPA’s action officially signs off on a 2017 North Carolina law removing Henderson and 25 other counties from the requirement, paving the way for its implementation.

“It’s a good thing to the extent that air quality in Western North Carolina has improved to the point that there’s no need for the continued emissions testing,” said N.C. Rep. Chuck McGrady.

He said testing requirments were put in place at a point in time when smog was of particular concen, but with the imprvement in air quality, testing has been deemed unnecessary.

“I see it as a positive,” McGrady said, noting that the decision is based on science and air quality monitoring, not the General Assembly just deciding the testing is no longer needed.

The state has seen air quality improvements since the passage of the Clean Smokestacks legislation in the 1990s, he added. There have also been dramatic improvements in manufacturing cars with lower emissions like better gas mileage, burning less fuel and some cars that don’t burn anything.

The Times-News reported last year that the move will allow about 2 million state residents to stop testing the emissions of their cars, saving $16.40 per inspection that’s charged on top of the $13.60 annual inspection fee.

In a statement Thursday, U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows announced the action and commended the move.

Implementation timeline

From the N.C. Division of Air Quality:

Emissions tests are still required, as the program change is not final yet.

The EPA action last week was preliminary, and approved the proposed rule. They will now publish it in the Federal Register and take comments for 30 days.

After considering any comments received, the EPA may move forward with a final rulemaking action in the Federal Register. Generally, final rules are effective 30 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.

NCDEQ provides certification to Reviser of Statutes within 30 days after EPA publishes its final approval in the Federal Register.

Finally, the Division of Motor Vehicles will begin program implementation after publication in the Federal Register (within 60 days).

“Our environment is in the best hands when we allow the free market and the private sector to take the lead, with limited government oversight and involvement,” Meadows says in the statement. “Vehicle emissions testing is a minimally effective policy with a high price tab for the taxpayers. This was a badly needed reform and I’m thrilled to see five of my district’s counties on the list of those who will see the benefits of the exemption.”

The release says Meadows worked extensively with the state General Assembly and the EPA to ensure the exemption’s full implementation, after several months of work led by House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Rep. Michelle Presnell (R-Yancey).

“As recommended by the state Dept. of Environmental Quality, I worked for quite a while to pass a law through the General Assembly to end the useless bureaucratic exercise of emissions inspections in Haywood County,” Presnell said in the release. “The people of Haywood County lose more than $1 million every year to emissions inspection fees alone, which does not include any required repairs.”

In all, Meadows’ 11th District includes five counties that will now be exempt from the emissions testing.

“I want to thank Congressman Meadows for his support in working with the EPA to see this initiative through,” said Moore in the statement. “This is a critical reform that will relieve a serious financial burden for thousands of North Carolinians in the future.”

The EPA’s move is the second in a five-step process that could take months culminating in the state Division of Motor Vehicles implementing the program and ending emissions testing in the county.

According to the state Department of Environmental Quality website, the EPA’s action last week kicks off a 30-day comment period, after which the EPA can move forward with a final rulemaking action in the Federal Register, generally becoming effective 30 days after the rule is published in the register.

After that, DEQ provides certification to the Reviser of Statutes within 30 days, and the Division of Motor Vehicles has 60 days from that point to begin program implementation.

For more, visit https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/air-quality/motor-vehicles-air-quality/inspection-maintenance-program.

 

http://www.blueridgenow.com/news/20181001/henderson-among-counties-now-exempt-from-emissions-testing

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