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Graphic Element, Right Gutter

AAA cars not to blame for major U.S. air pollution
USA Today: September 30, 1999

WASHINGTON - Cars and light trucks are no longer the major source for smog and ozone pollution in most major US cities, according to a report released by the American Automobile Association (AAA) yesterday.

The study says cars and light trucks, which include sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and minivans, account for less than 24 percent of the emissions that lead to ground-level ozone problems in 25 major cities, excluding New York and Los Angeles.

"This study confirms that smog produced by automobiles continues to decline and does not contribute inordinately to ozone problems in our cities when compared to the contribution of other sources," said Susan Pikrallidas, interim vice president of public and government relations for AAA.

New York and Los Angeles were excluded from the study because their AAA clubs declined to participate.

Using data submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the study reports a reduction in automobile emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) which contribute to the depleting ozone.

Because of EPA's more stringent emission standards for newer vehicles, AAA says there has been an 82 percent reduction in auto VOC since 1970 and a 38 percent reduction in auto NOx.

The study blames stationary sources, such as power plants and refineries, as the major contributors to air pollution today.

AAA representatives called on local, state and federal governments to stop targeting passenger vehicles and start looking at other industries to decrease ozone-related emissions.

"Its time to turn the spotlight on other pollution sources if we really want to continue to improve air quality," Pikrallidas said. "Targeting cars won't get you much more for the money."

Environmental groups dismissed the AAA study.

"It sounds like AAA has been breathing too much smog," said Daniel Becker, Sierra Club's director of global warming and energy.

"With asthmatic children being hospitalized at an ever-increasing rate, it is foolhardy and callous for AAA to imply that now is the time to let up on auto pollution," he said.

Story by Randy Fabi

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