A new state law exempts drivers in 26 counties, including several in the Charlotte region, from annual emissions tests for their vehicles.
The plan was signed by Gov. Roy Cooper this month, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency still needs to sign off on the change before it can start. After that happens, drivers in those 26 counties no longer will need to get an annual emissions test for their vehicles.
Emissions tests costs $30 a year, and include a safety inspection. Those safety inspections are still required and cost $13.60, so people will see a net savings of $16.40.
Mecklenburg and nearby counties, including Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Rowan and Union, still require annual emissions tests, however. They are among 22 counties that continue to have those mandatory tests.
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Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland and Stanly counties are among the newly exempted counties, and join 52 other counties that are exempt from emissions.
The changes to the emissions list are consistent with recommendations that the state Department of Environmental Quality made last year to the General Assembly, spokeswoman Bridget Munger said.
As part of a legislatively required study, the department’s Division of Air Quality determined that changes could be made to the vehicle emissions program, including removing some counties from the emissions requirement, without harming the state’s air quality.
The report stated that no area of North Carolina is violating federal air quality standards and noted that cars are continuing to get cleaner as new federal fuel and engine standards are phased in, starting this year.