Wilkes & Caldwell Among 26 Counties Where Emissions Inspections Will End

26 counties in North Carolina will no longer require emissions testing after recent legislation and EPA approval.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Sept. 24 approved a reduction in North Carolina counties required to perform yearly vehicle emissions tests.

The NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Division of Air Quality (DAQ), submitted the revised I&M State Implementation Plan (SIP) and Clean Air Act Section (CAA) 110(l) noninterference demonstration to remove the 26 counties from the I&M program to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval on November 17,2017.

On July 16, 2018, EPA signed the proposed rule and sent a notice of proposed rule making to the Federal Register for publication in late July or early August.

Beginning on Dec. 1, 2018 the additional counties will no longer be required to conduct emissions tests but will still require the safety inspection. The 26 counties are: Brunswick, Burke, Caldwell, Carteret, Catawba, Chatham, Cleveland, Craven, Edgecombe, Granville, Harnett, Haywood, Henderson, Lenoir, Moore, Nash, Orange, Pitt, Robeson, Rutherford, Stanley, Stokes, Surry, Wayne, Wilkes, and Wilson.

In April 2015 WataugaOnline.com, then WataugaRoads.com,  reported that a study by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and presented to the General Assembly, said that emissions tests for cars and trucks are no longer necessary to protect air quality in more than half the counties where state testing is currently required.

Legislators in 2013 directed DENR to conduct a study on whether all of the counties covered under the motor vehicle emissions testing program are needed to meet and maintain current and proposed federal ozone standards in North Carolina. Cars and trucks collectively are the largest source of emissions that lead to ozone formation in the state.

At the time of that report it was noted that the elimination of emissions tests would save car owners $16.40 per vehicle each year in counties where tests are currently required after the first three model years, state officials estimate. Safety inspections are still required in all 100 counties, costing owners $13.60 per vehicle each year.

  After Dec. 1, emissions inspections will still be required in 22 counties. Those include Alamance, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Davidson, Durham, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Guilford, Iredell, Johnston, Lee, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Onslow, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Union and Wake counties.