Don't Blame Cars
for Smog, AAA Says
WASHINGTON, DC, September 29, 1999 (ENS) -
Federal regulators should refocus efforts to cut air pollution
away from automobiles, the motorists advocacy group
AAA said today. Smog from motor vehicles has declined much
faster than pollution from other sources, and AAA says its
time to give drivers and automakers a break - and concentrate
on power plants and factories instead.
In a report released today in Washington DC,
AAA - formerly the American Automobile Association - presents
evidence of major reductions in air pollution from automobiles,
despite the growing number of vehicles on the road and miles
driven. The study is based on data submitted to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency by local air planning agencies.
The study even includes emissions from light
trucks, sport utility vehicles and minivans, which are not
held to the same emissions and fuel efficiency standards
as cars. "Clearing the Air - 1999" is the third
such study performed by AAA.
"Overall air quality in our cities is
improving, and it's due in large part to the automobile,"
says Susan Pikrallidas, AAA interim vice president of public
relations. "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."
The study, conducted by Virginia based Energy
& Environmental Analysis, Inc., examined pollution from
cars and light trucks; stationary sources such as power
plants, factories, refineries and commercial businesses;
paints, cleaning solvents and other products; road vehicles
like motorcycles and large trucks; and other mobile sources
such as airplanes, boats, lawn mowers, trains and construction
Less than 24 percent of the emissions that
lead to ground level ozone problems in 25 major cities come
from motor vehicles, the study finds. In cities such as
Atlanta, Georgia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Washington
DC, 65 percent to 80 percent of the volatile organic compounds
(VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) come from stationary sources
and mobile sources other than cars and light trucks.
Since 1970, VOCs emissions from all sources
have decreased by 56 percent, and NOx emissions have fallen
by four percent, the study finds. During the same 30 year
period, passenger vehicles have cut VOCs by 80 percent and
NOx by 38 percent.
In some cities, including Baltimore, Maryland and Phoenix,
Arizona, car and light truck emissions have declined by
about 65 percent, despite a more than 100 percent increase
in vehicle miles traveled nationwide.
AAA attributes the reductions to the production
of cleaner cars, stimulated by the tightening of federal
tailpipe emissions standards, cleaner gasoline and more
effective state inspections. The group projects continued
significant decreases in pollution from autos through at
"Through these studies, AAA sends a clear
message to governments - federal, state and local - that
they need to go beyond simply targeting passenger vehicles
if they hope to make any real progress in further cutting
the smog in our cities," says Pikrallidas.
Environmentalists challenge AAAs conclusions.
Daniel Becker, director of the Sierra Club's global warming
and energy program said in a statement, "It sounds
like AAA has been breathing too much smog. A third of the
nation's smog and 20 percent of the nation's global warming
pollution spew out of America's tailpipes. 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."
The EPA did not challenge AAAs numbers, but a spokesman
for the agency said the groups conclusions may be
"shortsighted." The agency is committed to reducing
emissions from all sources, according to EPA spokesman Dave
"This is not a contest," Cohen said.
"Letting motor vehicles off the hook for their past
performance is not a useful way of combating air pollution."
©Environment News Service (ENS) 1999.
All Rights Reserved.
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