Air Board Continues California's World Leadership in Auto Emission Standards
For immediate release
SACRAMENTO – California will continue to have the world's cleanest cars into the next century as the state Air Resources Board (ARB) on Thursday approved a far-ranging package of new automobile emission standards.
"The Board's action today shows that California is serious about continuing the clean-air gains we've been making since the 1970s," said ARB Chairman John Dunlap. He noted that about 40 percent of the state's air emissions come from the type of motor vehicles that would fall within the new standards. "The growth of California's economy, population and vehicle fleet mean we must look to automakers to help us reach our goals for cleaner air," Dunlap said.
Among other standards, the regulatory package requires most mini vans, pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) up to 8500 pounds gross vehicle weight to reduce emissions to passenger car levels by 2007. The regulations, known as Low Emission Vehicle II (LEV II), will run from 2004 through 2010.
Cars sold in California are already the world's cleanest under the current LEV regulations, which run from 1994 through 2003. However, the existing LEV regulations allow heavier mini vans, pickup trucks and SUVs to have emission levels up to three times greater than passenger cars.
Other requirements in the LEV II package include:
- An extension and tightening of the fleet average standards requiring automakers to reduce fleet emission levels each year through 2010. A "fleet" includes all new vehicles an automaker sells each year in California.
- Significantly lower oxides of nitrogen (the main contributor to smog) standards for low and ultra-low emission vehicles; a reduction of 75 percent from current LEV standards.
- Increased emission control durability standards, from 100,000 miles to 120,000 miles, for all passenger cars and other vehicles up to 8500 pounds gross vehicle weight.
- Further reduction in evaporative emissions -- smog-contributing gases which come from hoses, gas lines, and valves.
- Creation of partial zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) credits for vehicles that achieve near-zero emissions, such as hybrids, fuel cells and cars meeting the new super ultra low emission vehicle (SULEV) standard
The Board also removed from the LEVII package a less stringent emission standard which would have made it easier for automakers to sell diesel cars, pickups and SUVs. And the Board committed to review the regulations every two years to deal with any concerns.
As the state's passenger car fleet continues to grow and more SUVs, pickup trucks and mini vans are being used as passenger cars, the more stringent emission standards of LEV II are necessary for California to meet federally-mandated clean air goals outlined in the 1994 State Implementation Plan (SIP).
The SIP is the state's "road map" to attain federal clean air standards by 2010 and includes among its measures strategies to further reduce air pollution from automobiles and other mobile sources. When LEV II is fully implemented in 2010, it is estimated that smog-forming emissions in the Los Angeles area will be reduced by 57 tons per day, while the statewide reduction will be 155 tons per day.