By Elizabeth Ross, writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor
MASSACHUSETTS residents may soon be breathing easier.
Following California's lead, the Bay State has adopted the most stringent clean-air legislation in the country. The new law makes Massachusetts the second state in the country to enact tougher automobile emissions standards than those in the federal Clean Air Act.
"This goes well beyond the federal Clean Air Act," says state Rep. David Cohen (D). "This bill allows us to implement the strictest standards allowable under the law."
According to the legislation, passed last December, hydrocarbon emissions are to be reduced by 75 percent and nitrogen-oxide emissions by 50 percent, beyond current federal standards. Both toxic compounds, released through automobile tailpipe emissions, are said to contribute to acid rain, global warming, and other environmental problems.
The law will be phased in for cars sold in the state, beginning with the 1995 model year. The legislation also includes California's strong warranty, manufacturing, and recall provisions. The measure provides, for example, that any pollution-control equipment valued at a retail price of more than $250 be covered by a warranty for seven years or 70,000 miles.
Representative Cohen says he hopes the law will set a precedent for other states: "I hope the action of Massachusetts will be the catalyst (for other Northeastern states) and indeed the catalyst for other states in the nation."
Bay State environmentalists say the law will help alleviate the state's air-quality problems. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers Boston the 11th worst US city for smog, says Jenny Carter, an environmental attorney for Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group.
In addition, Massachusetts has had at least 40 days of unhealthy air quality over the last three summers by EPA standards, Ms. Carter says.
Other Northeastern states have shown a commitment to strict clean-air regulation. In August 1989, a group of environmental officials from all six New England states, New Jersey, and New York signed an agreement to promote stricter clean-air regulation in their states. …