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Raising Standards On Emissions

Americans are driving more cars more miles than ever before, reports CBS News Correspondent Diana OlickAmericans are driving more cars more miles than ever before, reports CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick. That's why President Clinton Tuesday joined the EPA in enforcing strict new standards on auto emissions.

"It will be the most dramatic improvement in air quality since the catalytic converter was introduced a quarter of a century ago," said Mr. Clinton.

For the first time, the new rules include popular sport utility vehicles, which make up 50 percent of the new car market.

The requirements will be phased in over 5 years, beginning with the 2004 model year. SUVs, pickups and minivans will all have to reduce toxic tailpipe emissions up to 95 percent. Cars will have to cut emissions by 77 percent. Oil refiners will be forced to reduce the amount of pollution-causing sulfur in gasoline by 90 percent.

Cars pollute much less than they once did, but driving still accounts for more than 30 percent of all air pollution. The new standards will cost consumers about $200 per new SUV, and, the oil industry predicts, up to 5 cents a gallon at the pump.

"Refiners will incur a higher cost and ultimately that cost will be borne by the motoring public," says the American Petroleum Institute's William O'Keefe.

Oil industry representatives argued that the new requirements would put some small refiners at economic risk and force higher gas prices in areas not affected by serious pollution. The regulation includes some pollution credit trading provisions and flexibility to help the small refiners.

The president admits the drive toward cleaner air will cost about $5 billion over the next decade -- not a small number until you compare it to the cost of pollution-related illnesses like asthma and bronchitis, which the White House claims cost the nation 5 times that.

The American Lung Association estimates that smog and microscopic soot annually accounts for 400,000 asthma attacks and 1 million various respiratory problems, many in children, as well as 15,000 premature deaths among the elderly.

The so-called Tier II regulations represent the second phase of a concerted effort under the 1990 Clean Air Act to get manufacturers to sell cleaner vehicles nationwide, not just in California where stricter emission controls already are required.

Bill Becker, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Air Pollution Administrators, said the tighter tailpipe requirements and cleaner gasoline "will result in huge air quality benefits."

Ford Motor Co. Vice President Helen Petrauskus said the standards "present formidable challenges" but the company "is prepared to meet or exceed them."

General Motors' spokesman William Noak said meeting the requirements for the largest SUVs "is the toughest part of this challenge."

"We'll be working hard on that," Noak said.
That's why President Clinton Tuesday joined the EPA in enforcing strict new standards on auto emissions.

"It will be the most dramatic improvement in air quality since the catalytic converter was introduced a quarter of a century ago," said Mr. Clinton.

For the first time, the new rules include popular sport utility vehicles, which make up 50 percent of the new car market.

The requirements will be phased in over 5 years, beginning with the 2004 model year. SUVs, pickups and minivans will all have to reduce toxic tailpipe emissions up to 95 percent. Cars will have to cut emissions by 77 percent. Oil refiners will be forced to reduce the amount of pollution-causing sulfur in gasoline by 90 percent.

Cars pollute much less than they once did, but driving still accounts for more than 30 percent of all air pollution. The new standards will cost consumers about $200 per new SUV, and, the oil industry predicts, up to 5 cents a gallon at the pump.

"Refiners will incur a higher cost and ultimately that cost will be borne by the motoring public," says the American Petroleum Institute's William O'Keefe,

Oil industry representatives argued that the new requirements would put some small refiners at economic risk and force higher gas prices in areas not affected by serious pollution. The regulation includes some pollution credit trading provisions and flexibility to help the small refiners.

The president admits the drive toward cleaner air will cost about $5 billion over the next decade -- not a small number until you compare it to the cost of pollution-related illnesses like asthma and bronchitis, which the White House claims cost the nation 5 times that.

The American Lung Association estimates that smog and microscopic soot annually accounts for 400,000 asthma attacks and 1 million various respiratory problems, many in children, as well as 15,000 premature deaths among the elderly.

The so-called Tier II regulations represent the second phase of a concerted effort under the 1990 Clean Air Act to get manufacturers to sell cleaner vehicles nationwide, not just in California where stricter emission controls already are required.

Bill Becker, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Air Pollution Administrators, said the tighter tailpipe requirements and cleaner gasoline "will result in huge air quality benefits."

Ford Motor Co. vice president Helen Petrauskus said the standards "present formidable challenges" but the company "is prepared to meet or exceed them."

General Motors' spokesman William Noak said meeting the requirements for the largest SUVs "is the toughest part of this challenge."

"We'll be working hard on that," Noak said.