Emissions Testing For Hamilton County Residents Starts Soon

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Emissions testing for Hamilton County residents starts soon, and County Clerk Bill Knowles issued a fact sheeting answering questions about the new procedure.

Mr. Knowles said the testing requirement with not interfere with the ability of motorists to renew their annual licenses via mail or Internet.

Mr. Knowles said, "April 1st is right around the corner. This fact sheet may be of interest.

"The federal and state mandated emission testing project will not interrupt the two options Hamilton County motorists have of renewing a license plate either by Internet or by mail.

"I am pleased that we were successful in getting project leaders to grant us
access to their testing database. This will enable us to electronically
verify test compliance. We will simply match a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) once an order is received in the County Clerk's office.

"It will also be beneficial when processing mail renewal orders. The mail and Internet options normally serve about 100,000 motorists annually.

"Hamilton County is the only Tennessee county with Internet tag renewal service."

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
Vehicle Emissions Testing Requirement for Hamilton County

Q. Why is emission testing required in Hamilton County?

A. The 1990 Federal Clean Air Act required the State of Tennessee to develop more restrictive regulations to control air pollution from mobile sources in counties which were not meeting the Federal Standards for air quality. Hamilton County’s air quality was tested in 2004 and did not meet the Federal standard.

Q. When does the testing start?

A. April 1, 2005.

Q. How much does it cost?

A. $10 (cash only—no bills larger than $20). No charge when a vehicle fails first test and a second is administered within 90 days.

Q. Will I still be able to renew by internet and by mail?

A. Yes. These services remain intact.

Q. Do all vehicles have to be tested?

A. At the time of titling a used car or renewing your annual vehicle registration, vehicle models 1975 and newer with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,500 pounds or less must be tested. If you buy a used vehicle and transfer your existing tag to that vehicle, testing is not required until the renewal date of the transferred tag.

Q. Are there any exceptions?

A. Yes. Motorcycles, 100% electric powered vehicles, new vehicles supported by an M.S.O. being registered for the first time, antiques (25 years or older and registered as antique), tactical military vehicles, vehicles out of the testing area (i.e. college students, military, retirees must apply for an exemption from the state)

Q. Where are the test centers located, and when are they open for business?
▪ 720 Eastgate Loop—Eastgate area
▪ 5206 Austin Drive—Northgate area

Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday, 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday

▪ 1620 Riverfront Parkway—downtown area
▪ 7460 Bonnyshire Drive—behind the Driver
License Testing Center on Bonny Oaks
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Closed Saturday and Sunday

Q. What will be tested?

1) Gas vehicles between 1975 and
1995
Tailpipe emissions test, a gas cap check and a tampering check. The tampering check is a visual test to make sure catalytic converters have not been altered. This applies only to vehicles that were manufactured with a converter.

2) Gas vehicles 1996 and newer
These vehicles are equipped with OnBoard Diagnostic (OBD) equipment. The process will verify that the OBD functions correctly and will gather emissions data stored in the vehicle’s computer. A pressurized gas cap leak check will also be conducted.

3) Diesel vehicles
Between 1975 and 2001 must pass an idle test of 10% opacity for at least 10 consecutive seconds and a gas cap check. 2002 models or newer must pass OBD test and gas cap check. (If the vehicle is not equipped with OBD, test will default to an idle test.)

Info available toll-free after March 1, 2005: (877) 477-0800 or (866) 329-9632
or online immediately at www.state.tn.us/environment/apc/emissions

Hamilton County and the City of Chattanooga have taken a major step toward improving air quality and public health, and reaching attainment of the new, stricter federal ozone standard by implement vehicle emissions testing in the County. The APCB (Air Pollution Control Board) has approved vehicle testing beginning April 1, 2005, gasoline and diesel powered passenger vehicles must pass an emissions test before they can be registered in Hamilton County.

Light duty motor vehicles are a major source of air pollution that leads to ozone, or smog. Ozone is a significant public health threat. The air in Hamilton County does not meet the new, 8-hour federal ozone standard. The 8-hour rule better-protects public health by tightening air quality standards. Vehicle inspection programs safeguard public health and will bring the County closer to attaining the new federal standards by reducing motor vehicle pollution.

“Our goal is to improve air quality in Hamilton County by identifying vehicles that are polluting the air. When these vehicles are fixed their harmful emissions drop significantly, and we take a major step toward cleaning our air,” said Vicki Lowe Environmental Program Manager Tennessee Division of Air Pollution Control.

Gasoline and diesel powered passenger vehicles 1975 and newer, with a gross vehicle weight 10,500 pounds or less, are subject to emissions testing. While the majority of vehicles will be subject to testing, electric cars, motorcycles and antiques are among a limited group of exempt vehicles. For more information, please call 1-877-477-0800, 866-329-9632, and
615-399-8995 or visit the web-site: www.state.tn.us/environmental/apc/emissions.php

Officials with Envirotest, which will be doing the testing, released this statement:

Chattanooga and Hamilton County will begin the vehicle inspection and maintenance program to achieve cleaner air sooner. “We’ll have the program up and running on April 1, just in time for ozone season. That means the people of Hamilton County will see an immediate benefit from emissions testing,” said Lowe.

State officials in Tennessee have expanded Envirotest’s role in Tennessee to operate the Hamilton County Program. The company is the world’s leading vehicle emissions testing firm and currently operates the five-county Middle Tennessee vehicle inspection program. Envirotest is constructing four specially designed, high volume inspection stations in the Chattanooga metro area. The vast majority of motorists in the program area will have easy access to a nearby station – within five miles of their home, or along their normal daily commute. The company is developing efficiencies that will make emissions testing quick, effective and convenient.

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“Envirotest has been an effective and reliable partner in helping us achieve our clean air objectives,” said Lowe. “This partnership has worked in Middle Tennessee, and will work to help the people of Hamilton County/Chattanooga reduce harmful vehicle exhaust,” she continued.

About the Benefits of Emissions Testing

The Middle Tennessee Vehicle Inspection Program in Nashville and the four surrounding counties eliminated 26,000 tons of smog-forming pollution from 1996-2002, an average of 3,700 tons each year. Emissions testing also benefits local public health and the environment by removing 40,000 tons of toxic carbon monoxide from the air each year. The program performed more than 911,000 inspections in 2003 – and over 8 million since the program began in 1985. The program identified 85,385 polluting vehicles in 2003 which contribute significantly to air pollution.

About Ozone

Pollutants in vehicle exhaust combine with heat and sun to form ozone, the prime ingredient in smog. Ozone and other pollutants including fine particles can permanently damage the respiratory and coronary systems, and harm the body’s defenses against infection and disease. Air pollution sends people to hospital emergency rooms and causes premature deaths. It aggravates and can even cause asthma in children. Motor vehicles are also the leading source of airborne carbon monoxide – a poisonous gas.

Envirotest to hire approximately 40 people

Envirotest expects to test some 300,000 vehicles each year. From lane inspectors and station managers to clerical staff, the company is hiring 40 people from Chattanooga and the surrounding area. The Chattanooga operation will be modeled after the existing program in Middle Tennessee, with the same test requirements, methods and fee.


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