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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Contact: Lori Irving
Telephone: 202-366-0660
FHWA 34-02

FHWA Administrator Tells Congress Transportation, Environment Are Compatible Goals

Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters today told the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that the U. S. Department of Transportation's efforts to improve mobility and the safety of surface transportation while protecting the environment and enhancing the quality of life for all communities are compatible goals.

"As a nation, we have made remarkable strides in reducing air pollution that comes from transportation-related sources," Peters said. "Where transportation is a significant source of pollutants, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate matter have all decreased substantially since 1970."

These reductions in emissions were accomplished during a period of 33 percent increase in population, 147 percent growth in gross domestic product, and 143 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled. The automotive, fuels, highway, and transit communities have managed to achieve this success in improving air quality while at the same time working to address increasing demands to improve mobility.

The downward trend achieved in emissions is expected to continue into the future. Engines and fuels will become even cleaner under recent EPA-issued regulations for emissions standards and cleaner fuel requirements. Between 2004 and 2007, more protective tailpipe emissions standards will be phased in for all passenger vehicles, including sport utility vehicles (SUVs), minivans, vans, and pick-up trucks. This regulation marks the first time that larger SUVs and other light duty trucks will be subject to the same national pollution standards as cars. In addition, the EPA tightened standards for sulfur in gasoline, which will ensure the effectiveness of low-emission control technologies in vehicles and reduce harmful air pollution.

When the new tailpipe and sulfur standards are implemented, Americans will benefit from the clean-air equivalent of removing 164 million cars from the road. These new standards require all passenger vehicles sold after the phase-in period to be 77 to 95 percent cleaner than those on the road today and will reduce the sulfur content of gasoline by up to 90 percent.

Motor vehicle emissions will be reduced as new heavy-duty vehicles that meet the 2004 emissions standards for heavy-duty engine standards enter the fleet. Beginning with the 2007 model, heavy-duty engines for trucks and buses must meet even tighter emissions standards, and the level of sulfur in diesel fuel must be reduced by 97 percent by mid-2006. As a result, after a phase-in period, each new truck and bus will be more than 90 percent cleaner than current models.

In addition to tighter standards, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has been working with industry to develop and demonstrate low- and zero-emissions advanced propulsion technologies for transit buses, including hybrid-electric, battery electric, and fuel cell-powered buses. Under FTA/DOT leadership, a national program is underway to accelerate the development and commercial viability of these advanced technologies.

"The American public demands and deserves both mobility and clean air, and we must remain focused on providing the highest level of service and environmental protection that we can provide," Peters said. "The Department of Transportation is committed to continuing the progress made over the last thirty years in reducing motor vehicle emissions and strongly supports the goals of the Clean Air Act's transportation conformity provisions."


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