- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 21, 2005

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Two Pacific Northwest states, Oregon and Washington, are about to adopt California’s new vehicle emission standards to reduce greenhouse gases.

When that happens, California’s newly implemented emissions standards — the toughest in the country — will be in effect along the entire West Coast from Canada to Mexico.

By 2016, all new cars, sport utility vehicles and light trucks sold on the West Coast will have to comply with the tougher standards on emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which scientists think are a leading cause of global warming. The 2016 date was set to give automakers plenty of time to comply with the new standards.

At least six states in the Northeast also are moving to adopt California’s new tailpipe standards.

It’s an environmental squeeze play — with states on the two coasts working to try to force the auto industry to turn out cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars, because those states account for nearly one-third of the U.S. car market.

“People realize that having more advanced-technology cars on the road will enhance our oil security and begin to address global-warming issues,” said Rob Sargent of the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups, based in Boston.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, California is allowed to set pollution standards for cars and trucks that are more stringent than federal standards. Other states can choose California’s standards or federal rules.

Most Northeastern states have followed California vehicle emission rules for years, and now those states are making the change to reflect California’s latest rules regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

Six Northeast states — New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine — are expected to finalize rules by the end of the year, according to Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, an association of state air quality officials from the region.

A seventh state, Rhode Island, is considering whether to adopt the new California rules or revert to federal standards, the group said.

Mr. Sargent said Pennsylvania, Illinois and North Carolina also are starting to look at moving to the new California standards.

Such efforts have gained little traction in the Midwest and South.

California lawmakers in 2002 directed the California Air Resources Board to develop rules to reduce vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases, a task the board completed in September. The regulations will be phased in starting in 2009, with all new cars, SUVS and light trucks required to be in full compliance by 2016.

The auto industry is suing California over its new standards, saying the state lacks authority to implement such regulations and that the rules eventually would add $3,000 to the cost of a new car.

This year, the industry has fought to try to prevent the entire West Coast from becoming what environmentalists call a “clean car corridor.”

Washington state lawmakers voted to bring the strict California standards to their state.

However, as part of a compromise, lawmakers made their bill contingent on Oregon adopting the same standards.

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission is expected to adopt the new tailpipe emission rules by the end of the year.

Both states’ regulations would take full effect in 2016.

Oregon’s stiffer requirements would mean new cars would have to emit 30 percent less carbon dioxide, 20 percent fewer toxic pollutants and up to 20 percent fewer smog-causing pollutants than the established federal standards.

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