The Commercial Appeal
State should step up
A lot of Memphians probably are happy that they no longer have to endure long lines at the city’s vehicle inspection stations for safety checks and emissions testing.
Over the long term, though, those smiles could morph into expressions of concern if Memphis and Shelby County, and the suburban municipalities, are negatively impacted by the loss of federal highway funds and industrial growth because there is no testing for vehicle emissions.
At 3 p.m. Friday, Memphis shut down its vehicle testing stations. City vehicle owners will no longer be required to have their vehicles inspected as a prerequisite to renewing their license tags. The City Council decided last year to cut funding for the stations at the end of this fiscal year, rightly pointing out that Shelby County is not in compliance with federal air-pollution standards and that Memphians should not be unilaterally required to undergo the testing.
The county refused to take over the program, hoping the state would agree to operate it, as it has in five other Tennessee counties. But here is the truth of the matter: It is irrational to think that Memphis drivers are the only ones contributing to the county’s air pollution program. If the county took over the emissions testing, it would not have the authority to require the six suburban cities to have their vehicles tested. The state would, however.
If state officials really are concerned about the county’s air-pollution problem, they should work out a deal with the county and city for the emissions testing to resume — as it has in those five other counties.