Editorials

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 6, 1999 | Go to article overview

Editorials


Tighten the SUV emission standards

In light of the fact that a few progressive automakers are taking the initiative to improve emission controls and fuel efficiency ratings for their new model sport-utility vehicles, light trucks, minivans and passenger cars, it is reasonable to expect that other manufacturers could do the same.

Rather than wait for automakers and fuel producers to do it on their own, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing two mandated programs designed to cut down emissions while requiring gasoline producers to remove more sulfur from fuel. The object is to reduce the volume of pollutants being released into the atmosphere.

These kinds of regulations create controversy because the mandates effectively impose conversion and production costs on the auto industry, a pillar of the U.S. economy and one that faces constant threats from global competition and reduced profitability. Industry lobbyists have consistently argued that additional pollution laws aren't needed, and that certain categories such as sport-utility vehicles or light trucks should remain exempt from the rules affecting passenger cars.

That is why this round of proposed pollution control is particularly significant. The EPA has raised the stakes by grouping SUVs, light trucks, minivans and passenger cars into a single category known as "Tier 2" vehicles that would be required to meet low-emission-vehicles criteria. In previous emissions legislation, SUVs and trucks were categorized separately with less stringent emission regulations. The new laws instead recognize the prevalent use of sporty vehicles as primary forms of transportation and bring them into compliance with most everything else on the road. The EPA's projections for 2000 show that SUVs and light trucks will likely surpass passenger cars in overall volume of auto emissions, a potent figure.

Claims by the auto industry that additional pollution controls will drive up costs and limit vehicle function are not adequate justifications to avoid bringing SUVs and light trucks into line with other forms of transportation. …

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