Northeast Mulls Clean Air Plan Study Urges States to Adopt California's Strict Pollution Control Law

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NORTHEASTERN states, which suffer from persistent smog, have been urged to adopt California's plan for reducing automobile emissions.

California's Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) program, which the state will phase in starting in 1994, would produce cleaner air and is more cost-effective for the Northeast than the federal 1990 Clean Air Act's auto requirements that all states will need to meet by 1995, according to a study released Monday by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM). Unless the region implements the most aggressive control programs, it will have little chance of meeting federal air standards, the study says. States discuss strategies

Environmental officials from 12 Northeastern states and the District of Columbia took steps toward that goal Tuesday by agreeing to further evaluate California's program. Members of the Northeast Ozone Transport Commission met for the second time to discuss strategies to clean up the region's bad air. The commission is the first organization established by the 1990 Clean Air Act to address regional pollution problems.

"Whatever happens (in these meetings) will have tremendous implications for the rest of the nation," said Robert Perciasepe, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment and chairman of the commission.

Of the 12 states, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, and New York have committed to adopt the LEV plan. The rest of the states in the commission, which includes the other four New England states, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia, are still considering it.

Thomas Jorling, a member of the group and commissioner of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, says the region's movement toward adoption of the California program, along with similar movements in Illinois, Texas, Colorado, and Wisconsin "indicates that very soon the California car will become the national car."

Under California's program, vehicles will have to meet progressively tougher emission standards over the next decade. To reduce auto emissions, gas- powered cars would be fitted with extra pollution control devices, which California estimates would cost $170 per car. …