Governor James E. McGreevey signed legislation today that will establish the "California Clean Car" emissions standards to automobiles sold in New Jersey. The law's enactment comes on the heels of the Governor's State of the State announcement to "Build a Better New Jersey" by reducing air pollution by 20 percent over the next 10 years.
"Yesterday, I set a goal of reducing air pollution by 20 percent over the next decade. Today, with the signing of the Clean Car bill, we are taking the first concrete step toward meeting that goal.
"Automobiles in New Jersey contribute 40 percent of the pollution that diminishes our air quality, and more than 80 percent of the airborne carcinogens. If you need proof, look at the black soot that covers the trucks that pass you on the highway. We must do all we can to protect the air we breathe, and build a better New Jersey."
The bill signed today requires the Department of Environmental Protection to begin implementing in 2009 the California Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) program, which requires reductions in tailpipe and evaporative emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides for all passenger cars, light-duty trucks and sport utility vehicles.
"Once again, Governor McGreevey has kept his promise to provide cleaner air for New Jersey's families," DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell said. "Clean cars will mean healthier air, an important part of Governor McGreevey's commitment to meet tougher public health standards for soot and smog."
"This is a great victory for anyone who breaths air in New Jersey. Adopting this bill in New Jersey represents the largest step forward on clean air policy in decades," said Dena Mottola, Executive Director of NJ PIRG. "We only have to look at the traffic in our communities and the highways that surround us to understand how profoundly pollution from automobiles contribute to our air pollution problem in New Jersey."
The Governor's action today is expected to reduce air toxins by as much as 20 percent more than federal emission standards. Combined, the stricter standards and the promotion of cleaner vehicles will reduce smog by 19 percent by the year 2020.
When it goes into effect in January 2009, the new emissions standards will require carmakers to produce approximately 40,000 gas electric hybrid cars and 128,000 super clean gasoline cars. For manufacturers that are already working towards these goals, the DEP will provide credits for cars created between 1999 and 2009.
The new law also creates the Low Emission Vehicle Review Commission, a 15-member panel, including environmentalists and auto industry representatives, which will determine if the production requirement under the California program is achievable in New Jersey, and if the incentives for production of partial zero-emissions vehicles are sufficient. In addition, the Commission will study and review any advice prepared by the independent expert review panel established for the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and any changes they propose or adopt for the California LEV program.
Zero emission vehicles, including those bought for lease, will also be exempt from State sales tax and use tax under the new law.
Air pollution is the third most serious health factor in the State. It is estimated that air pollution causes approximately 2,300 to 5,400 premature deaths a year, and is the largest source of carcinogens contributing to the State's growing asthma problem, heart disease and bronchitis among children and seniors. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that seven of New Jersey's counties rated among the 25 worst in the nation for air toxics, emitted primarily by cars and trucks.
The legislation, S2351/A3393, was sponsored by Senators John Adler (D-Camden) and John Bennett (R-Monmouth), Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), John McKeon (D-Essex), Sean Kean (R-Monmouth), and Matt Ahearn (G-Bergen).
"Today is a great day for New Jersey air and the nine million people who breathe it," said Adler. "Cleaner cars in New Jersey means better public health in New Jersey. I'm looking forward to far fewer hospital visits, pediatric asthma cases, and deaths from lung disease in our state."
"We've put the key in the ignition, and New Jersey will be at a new milestone in environmental air quality standards," said Gusciora. "Auto emissions certainly have an adverse effect on the environment and people's health. In a state as densely populated as New Jersey, restricting harmful, volatile organic compound emissions from cars and trucks will go a long way toward improving our air quality."
"This is an historic piece of legislation that will protect children and the elderly now, and the health of future generations in New Jersey," said McKeon. "Providing tax incentives for purchases of 'clean' cars will help the environment and motorists' pocketbooks. Anything we can do to clean up our air is a step in the right direction for New Jerseyans."
The Governor's action today compliments the environmental agenda he defined in his State of the State address yesterday. The Governor set a goal to reduce soot and smog air pollution by 20 percent over the next decade, asked the Legislature to set new laws that will reduce the impact of diesel emissions on our air quality, and said he would set the strongest limit on the mercury and arsenic that taints our water and air.
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