Panel Endorses California’s “Pioneering” Emissions Role

Posted on March 17, 2006

The National Research Council has endorsed efforts by California and other states to set tougher standards for engine exhaust emissions than those set by the federal government. California should continue its pioneering role in setting mobile-source emissions standards," the NRC said. "The role will aid the state's effort to achieve air quality goals and will allow it to continue to be a proving ground for new emissions-control technologies that benefit California and the rest of the nation."

The council is a private nonprofit institution which Congress calls on to advise policymakers on scientific and technical matters. Under the Clean Air Act, enacted in 1970, Congress gave California special authority to set its own pollution controlling measures to curb harmful smog, a chronic problem in Los Angeles and other major U.S. cities. But many of the industries affected by the state's rules want Congress to strip California of its power because they perceive the rules as too expensive and unnecessary.

Under a 2003 EPA spending bill, Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri called on NRC to study the issue. Bond was unhappy with California efforts to adopt strict small engine emission rules. Milwaukee-based Briggs and Stratton Corp. operates two plants in the state and the company was concerned the rules would be too expensive. A spokesperson for Bond said the lawmaker "will continue to ensure that as California acts to clean up its own mess, that at a minimum, California's actions do not hurt Missouri workers and families."

Several other states have adopted California emission standards over the years.

In its report, the expert panel said it considered several changes to the status quo, but it could not reach a consensus. NRC called on federal and state regulators to do a better job of communicating with each other on testing and certification procedures.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said the report "validated California's pioneering efforts to adopt the toughest smog controls in the nation." Feinstein said the EPA is expected to issue its own study on whether catalytic converters used to control emissions on lawnmowers, chainsaws, and leafblowers are safe.