MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - It's official: the state will take over all testing stations in Memphis on July 1st, and Shelby County residents don't have to worry about getting their cars tested. Or do they? Conflicting information is coming from our elected leaders. State Senator Brian Kelsey says county residents won’t have to worry about it for at least six years, but Shelby County Mark Luttrell is saying something completely different.
Memphis City Council voted to quit funding the emission program last year to save nearly $3 million. Many argue protecting air quality is a county responsibility too. Mayor Mark Luttrell agrees.
"It is indeed a county issue and technically speaking, the county is not in compliance, not just the city of Memphis but considering the circumstances that we are in now, the only requirement under the memorandum of agreement is for the City of Memphis to get tested,” said Mayor Luttrell.
Senator Kelsey says Commissioner Robert Martineau with the Tennessee Department of Environment promised the state would not expand emissions testing to county residents for at least six years.
“I think emissions testing is a real pain for everyone to go through it. That's why I’m trying to make it easier for everyone so that we have more locations for Memphis residents, and for those who don't have to do it right now [in the county], they don't have to do it for at least the next six years,” said Senator Kelsey.
But Mayor Luttrell heard a different story from state leaders.
"The commissioner did not make that commitment to me. He said that will be a determination to be made by the department, but he did not make a six year commitment to me,” said Mayor Luttrell.
Mayor Luttrell's warning to county citizens: be prepared to get your car tested and soon.
“The commissioner will make a determination over the foreseeable future as to whether or not it'll be expanded or not county-wide, and it's a very real possibility that we will, in the future, see that,” said Mayor Luttrell.
Carbon monoxide pollution in Memphis has dropped over the years, but it's still a big problem. The EPA declared Shelby County in violation of federal air quality standards. Mayor Luttrell hopes once the state takes over things will improve.