The Wilson County Budget Committee last week unanimously approved a resolution that opts out newer cars from emissions testing here.
Mt. Juliet District 3 County Commissioner Bobby Franklin sponsored the resolution. The resolution now tracks to the full County Commission next Monday, and if passed, will exempt cars 3 years old and newer from having to go through MARTA vehicle emissions testing.
"Less than three percent of those cars fail the test, and the emissions spent testing the other 97 percent exceeds that," Franklin said Tuesday.
"I am hopeful it will pass a vote of the whole commission."
The measure doesn't affect Franklin personally, as he drives older cars.
This past January the State Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to end emissions testing in Tennessee for new cars. The chamber voted 29-3 in favor of the measure to exempt cars less than 3 years old from the testing requirements. Now it's each county's responsibility to put through resolutions to opt out if they wish.
Many people say this measure by the state fell directly on the heels of Volkswagen's admission last year about 600,000 cars - 90,000 sedans made in Chattanooga - were sold with illegal software designed to trick government emissions tests, according to an Associated Press report.
"This state bill passed allows any county that wants to opt out new cars (3 years or newer) from being tested," Franklin said. "My resolution, if adopted, will be Wilson County doing that."
Franklin said counties can only do what the state passes and this is a first step. Currently, vehicles 25 years and older can be excempt, but owners must purchase an "antique car" tag and can only drive on the weekends.
Wilson County has two emissions testing places, one in Mt. Juliet and one in Lebanon. The cost is $9. Of that fee, the county only collects 25 cents, County Attorney Mike Jennings said in last week's Budget Committee meeting.
Franklin said larger counties like Davidson may drag their feet on opting out newer cars because of some "sub-contractual" issues.
There are 95 counties in Tennessee, and some don't even have emissions testing if they don't fall under the guidelines of MPO (Metropolitan Transit Authority), said Franklin.
Franklin said, when it boils down to it, "the whole idea was to stop pollution, and emissions testing is counter-productive."
"Does anyone think of how much emissions are put into the air waiting in the long lines," he asked. "I thought the purpose was to pollute less. Ninety-seven percent of new cars will pass." Franklin said he foresees a time when the age limit for cars tested will be exempt for 5 years or less.
"With the new regulations on cars, MARTA should go away, there will be no need to test because eventually all the older cars will be gone," he said. "You have to start somewhere."
Writer Laurie Everett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.