Dec 15, 2021 - Politics

Emission tests' "diminishing returns"

Interstate traffic in Nashville.
Interstate traffic in Nashville. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

Emissions testing in Nashville puts an "unreasonable" cost burden on residents, local health department official Tom Sharp told councilmembers Monday.

Why it matters: The Metro Council is poised to vote next month on a resolution to end local vehicle emissions testing. The health department's position on the issue could make it easier to get the votes.

  • Councilmember Kevin Rhoten's bill to eliminate the testing in Nashville has 23 co-sponsors.
  • The five other Tennessee counties that require testing are ending their programs in January.

Between the lines: In a statement to Axios, the Metro Public Health Department acknowledged "diminishing returns" from the testing program, adding that "other mitigation actions could make a bigger difference over time."

  • MPHD stopped short of disavowing the program, saying it has helped keep about 135 tons of nitrogen oxides out of the air annually. But the statement said the program only targets a relatively small portion of nitrogen oxides and that city resources could be put to more efficient use.
  • "If the Metro Council wishes to end the program, our position is that additional funding ... should be accessed to fund alternative mitigation strategies to protect and improve the quality of the air in Nashville."

The latest: Sharp urged the council to consider adding $4 to vehicle registration fees, part of which would fund other mitigation efforts.

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