16 December 1997

Washington, DC—The US Environmental Protection Agency finalized the necessary legal framework for a voluntary clean car program called the National Low Emission Vehicle ("National LEV"). The legislation would make enforceable a voluntary agreement that may be reached between auto manufacturers and Northeastern states for production and sale of an LEV automobile that would be up to 70% cleaner than cars currently on the road.

Under the National LEV program, auto manufacturers will have the option of agreeing to comply with tailpipe standards that, under existing laws, are more stringent than EPA can mandate prior to model year (MY) 2004. Once manufacturers commit to the program, the standards will be enforceable in the same manner that other federal motor vehicle emissions control requirements are enforceable. Manufacturers have indicated their willingness to volunteer to meet these tighter emissions standards if EPA and the northeastern states (i.e., those in the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) or the "OTC States'') agree to certain conditions, including providing manufacturers with regulatory stability and reducing regulatory burdens by harmonizing federal and California motor vehicle emissions standards.

If all manufacturers and all Northeastern states that are part of the OTC “opt in” to such a program within 60 days, the cleaner car could then be produced and made available for sale in all states except California, where by law cleaner cars already are available. EPA for the past three years has led discussions among the manufacturers, OTC states, environmentalists and other interested parties in an effort to broker a voluntary agreement that would lead to a cleaner car. If an agreement is reached, the first cleaner cars would be produced for next year.

Source: US EPA