What to expect as vehicle emissions testing ends in Hamilton County

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / A car pulls into the Hamilton County Emissions Testing Station located at 720 Eastgate Loop on June 29.

Hamilton County residents needing to register their vehicles will no longer have to undergo emissions testing beginning next year - and it could prompt them to wait before pulling the trigger on paperwork.

The emissions test requirement, which dates back to state and federal laws enacted to curb ozone pollution in 2005, officially ends on Jan. 14. In 2018, legislation by Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, and the late state Rep. Mike Carter, R- Ooltewah, eliminated vehicle emissions testing in the state 120 calendar days following approval by the Environmental Protection Agency, which came in August.

How residents respond to the changes may be mixed, Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles said when asked Wednesday whether residents may opt to delay registering so they can avoid the testing.

"I wouldn't be surprised," Knowles said.

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Emissions testing will continue to be required until Jan. 14.

But residents have already begun to reach out to the clerk's office questioning why they can't simply register their vehicles now without testing for emissions if the law is going to change regardless.

"I've had people email me and say 'Well, since it's going to end, why can't we go ahead and renew it now?'" Knowles said. "The air pollution people won't let them do it."

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The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced in August that vehicle emissions testing in five Tennessee counties would end in January because of improved air quality and a revision to the state's air quality plan.

In addition to Hamilton County, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties will no longer require emissions testing. Davidson County, which includes Nashville, decided to continue the program.

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Beginning Jan. 14, motorists can renew their tags without the air emissions requirement at countyclerkanytime.com or by visiting the clerk's tag offices at the Hamilton County Courthouse or off Bonny Oaks Drive.

Contact Logan Hullinger at [email protected] or 814-319-5158. Follow him on Twitter @LoganHullinger.