Friday, November 02, 2007

Emissions change is 'worst fear' for automakers

Portland Press Herald

Maine is among 12 states urging tougher standards, but the industry fears a patchwork of regulations.

The Associated Press November 2, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Automakers are lobbying the Bush
administration to prevent California and 11 other states,
including Maine, from implementing stricter standards on
certain vehicle emissions, contending it would create chaos in
the marketplace.

Industry officials have told the administration that it would force
them to develop various vehicle plans for different states,
creating a costly and cumbersome process for their industry and
dealership network.

"Our worst fear is that the EPA grants the California waiver," said
Mike Stanton, head of the Association of International
Automobile Manufacturers, during a Thursday breakfast with

California has said it intends to sue the EPA to allow the state to
impose tougher regulations on the emissions of greenhouse
gases from passenger cars, pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles
and vans.

The state wants to implement a 2002 state law that would make
automakers build vehicles that emit less greenhouse gas by the
2009 model year, cutting emissions by about a quarter by 2030.

California's law can take effect only if the EPA grants the state a
waiver -- requested two years ago -- under the Clean Air Act.
EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson has said he will make a
decision by the end of the year.

The request comes as Congress is considering new fuel
economy standards for the industry as part of an energy bill.

"If EPA rejects it, it will be based on politics and nothing but
politics," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.
O'Donnell and supporters of the waiver say its rejection would
undermine the ability of states to protect residents from

The federal government sets national air pollution standards,
but California has the right to ask EPA to let it enact its own
regulations under the Clean Air Act. Other states can opt to
follow the federal rules or the California standards if they are

Eleven other states -- Connecticut, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania,
Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington -- plan to implement
California's emissions standards if it gets the waiver. The
governors of Arizona, Florida and New Mexico have said their
states will adopt the standard.

Automakers have said the California approach would raise the
cost of cars and require manufacturers to reduce their offering
of SUVs and pickups. They have sought one federal standard for
tailpipe emissions.

"We think there's a basis for them to write a stringent rule, a
comprehensive rule, and one that can address a national issue,"
said Dave McCurdy, president and chief executive officer of the
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents General
Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler LLC, Toyota Motor Corp.
and others.

Stanton and lobbyists representing Toyota, Nissan Motor Co.,
Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. met last week with
Bush administration budget and environmental officials.

He estimated that several other states could adopt California's
standards, eventually representing about two-thirds of the new
vehicle market in the United States. The auto industry has said
the standard is too aggressive.

"This screams for a national program," he said.

Copyright © 2007 Blethen Maine Newspapers

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