Northeast States Agree on Strict Pollution Standards
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Nine Northeastern states and the District of Columbia have resolved to adopt California’s toughest-in-the-nation pollution rules governing automobiles.
The agreement, reached Tuesday by representatives on the Northeast Ozone Transport Commission, calls for use of reformulated, cleaner-burning gasoline, improved maintenance and inspection of vehicles and use of cars that cause less pollution.
Many of the states can adopt the standards through administrative procedures, officials said, although legislative action will be required in some states.
″It means a substantial number of states are joining California in insisting on production of new cars that are necessary to attain clean air and to maintain clean air,″ said Thomas Jorling, commissioner of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and a member of the commission.
Under the 1990 federal Clean Air Act, states have a choice of adopting California’s standards on engine emissions or the less-stringent federal requirements.
Representatives of the auto industry have said the regulations could add hundreds of dollars to the cost of a car. The American Petroleum Institute has said more study should be done to make sure the standards are not too costly.
The nine states that joined the District of Columbia in approving the regulations were: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island abstained.
Gov. Robert Casey noted that compliance with Clean Air standards would make Pennsylvania eligible for more than $450 million in federal highway funds.
″Clean air means jobs and economic expansion,″ he said.
Under the California standards, gasoline-powered cars would be required to meet stricter emission standards by the end of the decade, while automakers would be required to produce more cars that run on alternative fuel.
By 1999, 2 percent of the cars sold under the California rules would have to be battery-powered. That figure would have to be 5 percent by 2001 and 10 percent by 2003.
Ozone, which is produced from the hydrocarbons emitted by cars, buses, trucks and factories, is a noxious pollutant at ground level and the primary component of smog. More than half is thought to come from vehicles.
Don Buist, director of automotive emissions for the Ford Motor Co., told The New York Times he wasn’t sure the states’ actions were warranted.
″We aren’t convinced that standards established for California’s unique air quality problems make sense for other states and regions,″ he said.
Atlantic Richfield Co. spokesman Douglas Elmets said the more stringent standards ″could be met, through the use of reformulated gasolines.″
He said Arco hopes to market a cleaner gasoline by 1995 that would cost 16 cents per gallon more than current gasoline. That would still be cheaper than methanol fuel, which he said costs 25 to 40 cents a gallon more than gasoline.