Governor Bill Lee, as part of the effort to ease contact requirements on citizens during the coronavirus crisis, has suspended the requirements for vehicle emissions testing until further notice.
But that does not mean the vehicle emissions centers, including those in Chattanooga, have not been open and taking money.
State Air Pollution Control officials said they had no control over whether the stations are open.
However, after Rep. Mike Carter spoke out, an order went down to close the emissions centers.
The order from TDEC's Stephen L. Foster says, "Due to Gov. Lee’s Executive Orders and for the safety of our employees and motoring public, we will cease testing operations at all Metro and TDEC locations effective close of business today. Our employees are currently being notified and additional information will be communicated to them shortly. As I understand, a target date of reopening May 1st is being discussed. I am available if you have any questions or concerns.
"Thank you for your patience during this unprecedented event."
Rep. Carter, who has worked toward a permanent closure of the emission stations, had earlier said, "This is a reminder that VEHICLE EMISSIONS TESTING IN TENNESSEE IS SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. You DO NOT have to take your car through emissions to renew your tag. Hamilton County residents can renew on-line at www.CountyClerkAnytime.com
"Despite Governor Lee suspending testing by executive order last week to fight the spread of covid-19, opus testing centers remain open, misleading residents into thinking they are still required to go through emissions.
"You are not. Please spread the word."
The earlier order from Governor Lee says:
In order to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19, Governor Lee issued Executive Order No. 15 on March 19th that extends motor vehicle registrations that expire between March 12, 2020 through May 18, 2020. The new expiration date, for registrations that expired between these two dates, is now June 15, 2020. Therefore, the requirements for vehicle emissions testing are suspended until further notice. The Division of Air Pollution Control will update this notice with details as to when vehicle emissions testing services will resume in the near future. The Division of Air Pollution Control will work to ensure that testing services are available in enough time for vehicles to be tested prior to the extended registration due dates. Please call 866-329-9632 with any questions.