- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Thursday that it’s recommending the state eliminate emissions testing for cars and trucks in more than two dozen counties by 2016.

Emissions tests are now required in 48 counties for most cars and light-duty trucks at a cost of $16.40.

Donald R. van der Vaart, secretary of DENR, said a study found that testing could be eliminated in most of those counties without harming air quality.

“North Carolina’s air quality has improved significantly since emissions testing requirements were expanded for motor vehicles in the early 2000s,” he said. “We studied the air quality improvements for this report and concluded that we could eliminate emissions testing for motor vehicles in numerous counties without harming air quality or violating federal standards.”

The federal EPA is in the process of revising its ozone standard by late 2015. State officials recommend eliminating testing in between 27 and 31 counties, depending on the new federal standard.

Any change would have to be approved by the state Legislature, which received a study this week. Lawmakers asked for the study in 2013 to see whether emissions testing could be reduced.

The report says further analyses should be conducted to see whether more counties can be dropped after 2016.

Safety inspections, at a cost of $13.60 per vehicle, would still be required in all 100 counties.

Even if the changes were adopted, emissions tests would still be required in urban counties including Mecklenberg, Wake, Durham, Forsyth and Guilford.

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