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Tighter Vehicle Emission Standards Proposed for Washington State

Washington state would follow California’s lead in establishing tough new automotive standards to slash emissions of greenhouse gases under a proposed new bill. The bill, being drafted by Rep. Ed Murray, a Seattle Democrat who chairs the House Transportation Committee, would thrust Washington into the forefront of efforts by states to combat global warming. It would also put Washington in the thick of a battle with automotive companies over the legality of such actions.

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From The Seattle Times

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SEATTLE, WA — Washington state would follow California’s lead in establishing tough new automotive standards to slash emissions of greenhouse gases under a proposed new bill.

The bill, being drafted by Rep. Ed Murray, a Seattle Democrat who chairs the House Transportation Committee, would thrust Washington into the forefront of efforts by states to combat global warming. It would also put Washington in the thick of a battle with automotive companies over the legality of such actions.

“I think this is legal and doable, and intend to introduce it early in the [next legislative] session,” Murray said.

The idea of imposing the tougher standards was endorsed recently by most members of a task force that included government officials, environmentalists and representatives of some of the state’s largest businesses.

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The bill will likely face a vigorous fight from the auto industry, which claims the California rules are really an illegal, if indirect, attempt to impose tougher fuel-mileage standards.

“If you wait for the process to play out in California, it will be clear that no state has the authority to impose these kind of standards,” said John Cabaniss of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, which plans a court challenge in that state.

In California, the standards would be phased in over more than a decade, eventually requiring by 2016 an average 30 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by new cars.

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The standards would eventually boost the price of all new cars registered in the state by roughly $1,016, according to California state projections.

Auto-industry officials argue that the cost would be much higher, meeting the standards would pose technical challenges and the final price tag could hurt new-car sales.

California state analysts say all the technology needed to meet the standards is now available. And they say consumers could expect to recoup the added vehicle costs through lower fuel and other operating costs over the life of the vehicle.

The Washington standards would match those of California and follow a similar timeline.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CALIFORNIA PLAN

–Reduction of greenhouse gases is scheduled to start with 2009-model-year automobiles.

–According to California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff, the average reduction of greenhouse gases from new California cars and light trucks will be about 22 percent in 2012 and about 30 percent in 2016, compared with today’s vehicles.

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–Costs for the added technology needed to meet the rule are expected to average about $325 per vehicle in 2012 and about $1,050 per vehicle to comply in 2016, costs the ARB claims would be offset by savings on fuel.

–At least seven other states — New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine — as well as Canada, are expected to consider adopting the regulation for their use. If all of those states and Canada adopt the rule, the number of cars required to meet the rule will triple.

–The regulation is also expected to cut ozone-forming pollution by about five tons per day by 2020.

Copyright 2004 The Seattle Times. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. All Rights Reserved.

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