Ordinance Prepares to Exempt Memphis Drivers From Car Inspections

(Memphis) With no agency so far prepared to take over emissions testing this summer, a few Memphis city councilmen are preparing ordinances to make sure the entire county is subject to inspections, or no one at all.

Last year, Memphis council members decided to stop running auto inspections after June 30th, saying that compliance with federal air standards should be a countywide effort, rather than the city’s alone.

But since then, the county has made it clear it will not take on the inspection operations and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has not committed to it either.

TDEC has stated it still hopes local leaders will find a solution.

Meanwhile, Sen. Brian Kelsey (R – Germantown), has stated intentions to exempt suburban Shelby County residents from any auto inspections for the next six years, due to the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency will be revising its standards during that time.

Memphis Councilman Lee Harris said, “We should have a county-wide emissions program. And until we have a countywide emissions program, we’re going to just exempt Memphians altogether.”

Harris’s ordinance draft states that Memphis residents will only be subject to inspections when the entire county participates in them. Otherwise, Memphis drivers will be exempt for two years.

Knowing that a total lack of inspections would bring about sanctions, removal of federal funds and possible lawsuits, Harris said, “So hopefully it places an incentive for the county commission, and also the state, and also the EPA, to create a county-wide emissions program.”

Memphis and suburban Shelby County drivers seem to agree with the all-or-nothing approach.

“It’s not fair. They drive in the city. We drive in the county. So it should be across the board,” said Stan Jefferson, who lives in Memphis.

In Bartlett, Eric Baxton said, “I’d go through it, just for being fair.”

Another resident who lives in unincorporated Shelby County said, “You got to take in more than the county. This is not a county thing. It is a regional thing.”

But he added that he feels inspections are an “infringement,” and that he would prefer no one be required to go through testing.

Others said they hope all county residents are required to do inspections, for the sake of the environment.

“This is our failsafe,” Harris said about his ordinance. “I’ve got to be accountable to the folks who voted me in. And those folks are tired of carrying the regulatory burden on their own. That’s a punch in the gut.”

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