WASHINGTON-The Environmental Protection Agency has extended until Dec. 1 the comment period on its proposal to require low-emission vehicles for the 49 states outside of California. U.S. automakers are pushing this plan as an alternative to that of the Ozone Transport Commission, a coalition of 12 Northeast states and the District of Columbia, to establish California emissions requirements in their jurisdictions for the Clean Air Act.
The California plan includes a requirement that 2 percent of all vehicles have zero emissions-a condition met only by electric cars.
By contrast, the 49-state plan has no such requirements.
Although the EPA doesn't currently have the authority to enforce more stringent standards, it could enforce the 49-state program if automakers voluntarily joined. The auto industry, the agency said, is willing to comply with the plan under certain conditions.
But both sides at a Nov. 1 public hearing insisted their conditions had to be met before they would agree to the proposal.
State officials and environmentalists at the hearing insisted the 49-state program should have some requirement for advanced-technology, zero-emission vehicles.
Automakers, however, want New York and Massachusetts to back down on their commitment to establishing California standards. Those states, for their part, want to keep the option of adding further requirements to the 49-state plan if they feel the need.