Consumer Group Rejects California Auto Standards

Published February 1, 2006

In a commentary published in the December 9 State College Centre Daily and other Pennsylvania newspapers, AAA, the nation’s oldest organization of automobile owners, has come out in staunch opposition to the effort to impose California automobile emission standards on Pennsylvania. The group notes:

  • “No diesels. Pennsylvanians could no longer buy new diesel vehicles. Even advanced ‘clean diesel’ vehicles would not be allowed under California requirements.
  • “Higher prices. California cars cost substantially more, from $1,000 to $3,000 or more per comparable model, because of required manufacturing changes and limited production.
  • “Special gas. California cars need special blends of fuel now produced and sold only in California. They cost more. Failure to use that type of fuel degrades vehicle emission systems, eroding any intended benefits.
  • “Fuel availability. The Commonwealth’s current fuel production, distribution and retailing infrastructure would require significant and costly changes. When a Pennsylvania/California car gases up outside the Commonwealth, the special blend of fuel will likely not be available.
  • “Limited choices. Pennsylvania consumers would face fewer choices when buying a new car; they would be limited to CA LEV-certified vehicles. Pennsylvania dealers would not be able to trade or bring into Pennsylvania vehicles from border states that do not participate in the CA LEV program.
  • “Our hands are tied. If Pennsylvania adopts CA LEV, Pennsylvania becomes bound inextricably to any and all future changes made by the un-elected California Air Resources Board. Pennsylvania officials will be unable to oppose measures that might suitably address California’s air quality problem, but not be appropriate for Pennsylvania.
  • “Limited benefits. Computer models show states under the existing federal vehicles standards will achieve virtually identical benefits in emissions reductions.”

According to AAA, the Tier 2 federal low-emissions vehicle program, less stringent than the California standards, nevertheless “mandates cleaner vehicles than we have ever seen in Pennsylvania. It’s reasonable, fair and effective.”

“With a Tier 2 vehicle,” AAA points out, “a car trip from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh would produce fewer emissions than mowing your lawn.”

— Michael Coulter