Vehicle owners in Onslow, Lee and Rockingham counties will no longer need emissions tests starting Nov. 1, but vehicle safety inspections are still required in all counties.
After Nov. 1, New Hanover County will be the only coastal county to continue requiring emissions tests.
Moves to eliminate emission testing requirements date back to a regulatory rewrite the North Carolina General Assembly passed during its 2017 long session. The measure removed Brunswick, Carteret, Craven and 22 other counties from the state’s motor vehicle emissions testing program. Then a 2020 law removed Onslow, Lee and Rockingham counties.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality said removing the three additional counties would not interfere with the state’s ability to meet applicable national air quality standards. In June, the Environmental Protection Agency published a notice on the proposal to remove the three counties from the program and accepted public comment for 30 days.
The EPA published final approval Aug. 11, and the rule took effect Monday.