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Schneiderman, city and state coalition urge adoption of national air pollution controls for passenger cars and trucks

by jmaloni

Press release

Fri, Jul 5th 2013 12:30 pm

AG: New EPA rule will prevent as many as 23,000 cases of respiratory illness in children annually

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of 15 cities and states, submitted a letter to the acting administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency urging the swift adoption of a newly proposed rule for reducing air pollution from passenger cars and trucks. The "Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards" rule, proposed by the agency in March, is designed to bring substantial public health and economic benefits by setting new vehicle emission and fuel standards beginning in 2017. The rule is set to reduce motor vehicle emissions of smog-producing pollution by 80 percent and soot pollution by 70 percent. The coalition letter urges the EPA to finalize this rule on-schedule by the end of 2013.

"Emissions from cars and trucks result in air pollution that threatens the health of millions of New Yorkers each year," Schneiderman said. "Our coalition of states and cities are on the front-lines in the fight for the wellbeing of all our citizens, and particularly the most vulnerable among us: our children, our elderly and those already suffering from respiratory and heart diseases. We commend the EPA for proposing common sense, cost-effective and forward-looking pollution standards for motor vehicles. They will help us win the fight against dirty air. Today, we are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure these standards are finalized without delay."

The AG's camp said poor air quality threatens the health of more than 150 million people in the U.S., especially children, the elderly and those with existing respiratory diseases. The cost estimate for air pollution-related illnesses is $150 billion per year. According to the American Lung Association, more than 3.2 million New Yorkers lived in counties in 2012 where levels of soot and smog pollution endanger health. This year, the group ranked the New York City metropolitan area as 17th worst among 25 top U.S. cities most polluted by smog. Due to the tremendous public health impact of air pollution and the substantial contribution motor vehicles make to this pollution, the annual monetized health benefits of the "Tier 3" standards are estimated to be three to seven times greater than their costs.

As thecoalition letter to Acting Administrator Robert Perciasepe points out, the proposed standards are expected to prevent as many as 23,000 cases of respiratory illness in children, 22,000 asthma attacks and 2,400 premature deaths each year, as well as reduce risks to millions of Americans living, exercising and working near major roadways. The pollution reductions achieved by the standards would have the same effect as taking 33 million of today's vehicles off the road during the 2017-25 period of the rule's applicability.

Motor vehicles are a significant source of smog and soot air pollution. In the U.S., they are responsible for a majority of nitrogen oxide emissions and about 30 percent of volatile organic compound emissions. These pollutants contribute to smog and soot pollution, which cause respiratory and heart disease.

EPA's Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards were published in the Federal Register on May 21. The rule builds on EPA's "Tier 2" motor vehicle regulations finalized in 2000. The proposed rule would set a new emission standard for passenger cars, light-duty trucks and certain medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles starting in 2017. The rule's proposed tailpipe standards, which would limit emissions of smog-producing NOx and VOCs and soot pollution, would be phased in between 2017 and 2025. Proposed standards reducing allowable sulfur content of motor vehicle fuels would go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

Joining Schneiderman in the letter were the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia and the Corporation Counsels of Chicago and New York City.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael J. Myers of the attorney general's environmental protection bureau under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Lisa M. Burianek, Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg and First Deputy for Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel.

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