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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Pacific NW

Oregon gets tough on auto emissions rules

Charles E. Beggs Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. – Gov. Ted Kulongoski moved ahead Monday with his plan to have Oregon adopt tougher vehicle emissions standards, a step that would give the three West Coast states the strongest restrictions in the nation.

Kulongoski, in a downtown Portland announcement, directed the state Department of Environmental Quality to being work on regulations and also appointed a panel to advise on issues involving the new restrictions.

“Recognizing that the science around global warming is now clear, I am committed to combating this problem to save our quality of life for our children and grandchildren,” Kulongoski said.

“Adopting new vehicle emissions standards will not only deliver cleaner air, but it also will deliver real savings to Oregonians, particularly as the cost of gasoline continues to rise,” he said.

The Democratic governor announced earlier this year that he wanted the state to adopt tougher California-type emissions standards. Washington state has approved the stricter rules, which will take effect once Oregon follows suit.

“When Oregon moves forward, the entire West Coast will have the same heightened standards, and the pressure for the automobile industry to transition to cleaner cars nationally will be inevitable,” said Kulongoski.

Lawmakers sought to thwart his plan by adding language to the Department of Environmental Quality’s budget bill to prohibit the agency from spending money to adopt or enforce California-style vehicle pollution rules.

Kulongoski vetoed that provision Monday under his power to strike out “single items” in budget bills.

The stiffer requirements mean new cars sold in Oregon will have to emit 30 percent less carbon dioxide, 20 percent fewer toxic pollutants and up to 20 percent fewer smog-causing pollutants than the established federal standards allow.

The rules first would apply to new autos in the 2009 model year.

Federal law allows California to adopt pollution standards for cars and trucks that are more stringent than federal emissions rules. Other states can choose either California’s standards or the looser federal rules.

The auto industry is suing California, saying the state lacks authority to implement such regulations and that the rules would add $3,000 to the cost of a new car.

Kulongoski also said he is creating a work group to develop plans for reducing carbon emissions by electric utilities. That, along with auto emission reductions, was recommended in April by the governor’s global warming advisory panel.

The carbon emission work group will be headed by David Stewart-Smith, a retired state Department of Energy employee.

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