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The Planet

The Planet
November 1998 Volume 5, Number 9


Clean Cars, Clean Air

Cars, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and other motor vehicles now spew out nearly 50 percent of the pollution that causes smog (ozone). This past summer, from Maine to Florida and from the Carolinas to Oregon, smog reached punishing levels. In the Northeast, there were more days that exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency 's new 8-hour ozone standard than didn't.

Existing tailpipe-emission standards, which went into effect in 1994, aren't tough enough. When they are fully implemented in 2007, approximately 90 million Americans will still be living in areas with unhealthy air.

Why is it getting worse? Currently, SUVs, minivans and other light trucks emit much more pollution than cars because the emission standards they are required to meet are looser. Since these vehicles now account for nearly half of new-vehicle sales, we get more air pollution. In addition, diesel vehicles spew out three to 10 times more soot pollution than gasoline vehicles, and automakers are looking to put more diesels on the road, especially diesel SUVs. Another factor is the sulfur in gasoline, which damages vehicle emission systems thereby causing more pollution.

The EPA has concluded that new, tougher pollution standards are needed to improve air quality. They are now in the process of determining what these new Tier II standards will be. They face a key decision - whether to stand firm and develop standards that clean up the air or to cave into pressure from the auto and oil industries. Citizen outcry can make the difference.

To take action: Please write a letter to EPA Administrator Carol Browner urging her to issue stronger standards. Tell her to: - Clean up SUVs. They should meet the same tough new emission standards as cars.
- Clean up diesels. Diesel vehicles should meet the same standards as gas vehicles.
- Put advanced-technology cars on the road. Be sure they are truly clean.
- Require clean gas. Gas with low sulfur levels will help reduce pollution by letting emissions systems operate properly.
Send your letter to: Administrator Carol Browner, Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M Street, SW, Room 1200 WT-Mail Code 1101, Washington, DC 20460.

For more information: Contact Ann Mesnikoff, Global Warming and Energy Program, at (202) 675-7902;
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