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Update: Efforts to remove eighteen counties from the I/M Program

The following process needs to be completed before North Carolina can remove eighteen counties (Alamance, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Davidson, Durham, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Guilford, Iredell, Johnston, Lincoln, New Hanover, Randolph, Rowan, Union, and Wake) from the Inspection and Maintenance (I&M) program. The removal of these eighteen counties was enacted in Section 12.7 of Session Law (S.L.) 2023-134 (House Bill 259) of the 2023 session of the North Carolina General Assembly effective October 3, 2023.

DEQ's Division of Air Quality has twelve months to submit to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval the revised I&M State Implementation Plan (SIP) and Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 110(l) noninterference demonstration to remove the eighteen counties from the I&M program.  

Mecklenburg County remains subject to the I&M program and for this county, S.L. 2023-134 changed the definition of a vehicle subject to an emissions inspection to a vehicle with a model year within 20 years of the current year and earlier than the 2017 model year.

Note: All counties will still require the annual safety inspection.

Next Steps

  • DAQ completes and submits the revised I&M State Implementation Plan (SIP) and Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 110(l) noninterference demonstration to EPA by October 3, 2024.

  • EPA has up to 18 months to complete final approval.

  • EPA will publish a notice in the Federal Register proposing to approve the revised I&M State Implementation Plan and CAA Section 110(l) noninterference demonstration to remove the three counties from the I&M program and will take public comments on the proposal for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

  • EPA will publish its final approval in the Federal Register addressing any public comments received.

  • The DEQ Secretary will submit a certification letter of the SIP approval by EPA to the Revisor of Statutes after the final EPA approval is published in the Federal Register.

  • The Division of Motor Vehicles must implement the program changes on the first day of a month that is 60 days after the DEQ Secretary certifies to the Revisor of Statutes that EPA has approved the amendment to the SIP.

Inspection / Maintenance

The Inspection/Maintenance (I/M) Program for cars and trucks makes sure that the air pollution controls are working properly on vehicles. This is important because motor vehicles contribute substantially to air quality problems.

Emissions Testing

North Carolina requires emission systems tests for cars and light-duty trucks as part of the annual safety inspection in 19 counties. Vehicles from 1996 and newer are usually equipped with On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) systems, which help inspectors check that the vehicle's pollution controls are working.

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