MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - 70 percent of the people in Shelby County have been thrown under the bus, so says Memphis City Councilman Shea Flinn. He says the plan allowing the state to take over car inspections is unfair, since only city residents would be required to get their cars inspected.
Nobody seems to know when the state will test auto emissions in all of Shelby County. Environmental officials say there is no deal to keep out of the county for six years, despite what State Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown claims.
It makes no difference how complicated this is to Councilman Flinn, who says pollution is a county-wide problem, but Memphis folks end up the only ones paying for the solution.
"It's the county that's out of compliance. It's the county health department that administers the program. Yet only Memphis gets... I mean we're seeing 70 percent of our population thrown under the bus here, and being forced to pay for everybody else's air quality and it's just wrong."
Memphis has to test for emissions; it's part of an agreement the city signed with the feds years ago. But a lot of things have changed, and pollution isn't just a city problem.
"I think Mayor Wharton's going to be talking to Congressman Cohen about it to talk to the EPA," Flinn said. "I mean this is patently unfair. There's no other way to describe it. It's a county problem...we'll let Memphis pay to fix it."
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell had tried to work out a plan, but he and the suburban mayors couldn't do it. That's why the state is taking over.
Don't ask him whether he thinks just testing Memphis city residents is fair - you won't get a yes or no answer."The auto emissions tests. As it stands right now, is it fair?"
"Well, it's not as simple as that," he replied."Well it's not that complicated."
"Well Mike, it is. Don't try to make anything simple because it's not simple. This is a situation that deals with more than just Shelby County. It involves agreements we have with the state and with the Environmental Protection Agency."
And don't ask him when there will be emissions testing in all of Shelby County, not just Memphis.
"No, I can't tell you. That's a state decision."
The Tennessee Department of Environmental Control sent an e-mail saying that there is no deal between them and Senator Brian Kelsey to not do emissions testing in all of Shelby County for six years.
Six years is when the next revision is due on standards with the feds. The state can order county-wide testing if they determine the need.