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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release February 12, 1998
                      A "CLEANER CAR" FOR AMERICA

                  Voluntary Agreement with Car Makers 
                  Fights Smog, Protects Public Health

With leadership from the Clinton Administration, major auto manufacturers are voluntarily agreeing to produce a cleaner car that emits 70 percent less pollution than today's models. The new cars -- available in eight Northeastern states and the District of Columbia later this year, and elsewhere across the country by 2001 -- will mean cleaner, healthier air for Americans.

Tailpipe emissions from cars, trucks and buses account for half of all air pollution in the United States. The National Low Emission Vehicle Program will dramatically reduce these harmful emissions. Through a voluntary agreement with American and international car makers, new cars will soon emit 70% less hydrocarbons and 50% less nitrogen oxide, the principal components of lung-damaging smog. The agreement will also reduce emissions from most sport utility vehicles, minivans and pickups. The added cost is approximately $95 per vehicle. Because the Clean Air Act prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from strengthening emissions standards until 2004, this voluntary program achieves cleaner air for the nation at least five years ahead of schedule.

"Cleaner Cars" Mean Cleaner Air -- This agreement means cleaner air for Americans and particularly benefits the 81 million Americans outside California who live in areas in violation of federal air quality standards. (California enforces its own emissions standards.) By 2001, when these cars are available nationwide, the annual public health benefit will be equivalent to taking more than 10 million cars off the road.

"Cleaner Cars" Mean Cost-Effective Pollution Control -- This voluntary program is a common-sense, cost-effective step in cleaning the nation's air. It represents another success in Clinton Administration efforts to work with states, industry and others on innovative strategies that allow us to protect the environment and public health while growing the nation's economy. The agreement results from four years of negotiations led by the Administration. It benefits car companies by avoiding a patchwork of differing state emissions requirements. It benefits states by delivering cleaner cars sooner than the law requires. It benefits the public by providing cleaner, healthier air.

"Cleaner Cars" Preserve the Rights of States -- This agreement preserves a state's right to adopt additional clean air requirements like those in California, such as a mandate for zero-emission or electric cars. Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and the District of Columbia are participating in the cleaner car program. New York and Massachusetts have adopted the California standards; Maine and Vermont have reserved the option.

Auto makers joining the cleaner car agreement as of February 11: Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, Rolls Royce, Saab, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Volvo. Others are expected to join before the February 17 deadline.