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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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RELEASE: 4/24/98
CONTACT: Amy Collings or Loretta O'Donnell
609-984-1795 or 609-292-2994


State Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn today endorsed a federal plan that supports greater air pollution controls on passenger cars, light trucks, mini-vans, sport utility vehicles and diesel-powered vehicles.

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, released Thursday, is required under the Clean Air Act to assess the need for tighter emission controls on motor vehicles and the cost effectiveness of those controls.

"Tighter passenger vehicle standards will be necessary to meet the new clean air standards for ozone and particulates. But utility vehicles are not required to meet the emission controls that are standard in passenger cars today, although they are typically being used as passenger vehicles, not for commercial hauling," said Shinn. "Given the fact that cost-effective technology exists to control these emissions, EPA should, without question, adopt new, tighter standards for these vehicles."

If EPA proposes new rules, solicits public comment, and adopts the proposal next year as expected, the cleaner vehicles would be available in the 2004 model year at the earliest.

"Governor Whitman agreed to New Jersey's participation in the National Low Emission Vehicle (NLEV) Program because we knew this rule-making would push clean car technology even further," Shinn said.

The NLEV program negotiated with auto manufacturers puts cars 70 percent cleaner than current models on sale beginning this year. The federal Clean Air Act of 1990 does not allow EPA to tighten auto emission controls on light-duty vehicles before 2004.

"In addition, we must work toward reducing levels of sulfur in gasoline, to maximize effectiveness of the pollution controls," added Shinn, pointing out sulfur in gasoline degrades the components of the emission controls necessary to achieve the tighter standards. EPA is expected to conduct a workshop on the sulfur issue May 12.

"Cleaner cars and trucks and cleaner fuels will mean substantially cleaner air," said Shinn. "We'd like to see these two initiative progress in tandem, which will help New Jersey attain the public health standards for air quality."

The majority of New Jerseyans breathe unhealthful air on days throughout the year when pollution levels reach excessive levels under certain weather conditions. This especially harms young children, the elderly, and persons with asthma and other respiratory problems. While the Department of Environmental Protection has launched several initiatives to reduce air pollution, national and regional efforts such as cleaner cars and fuels are needed, as pollution from other states degrades air quality in New Jersey.


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