AG Cooper joins push to cut air pollution from cars, trucks

New EPA rule would prevent 23,000 cases of child respiratory illness, 22,000 asthma attacks each year
Jul 06, 2013

RALEIGH — Stronger national standards for car emissions and cleaner fuel would cut down on smog and soot and prevent tens of thousands of illnesses and deaths each year, Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week.



Cooper joined 11 other state attorneys general and representatives of three cities in a letter to the EPA urging the swift adoption of the Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards rule, which would set new emission and fuel standards for passenger cars and trucks beginning in 2017.


“Clean air is critical for our health and our economy,” Cooper said.  “Implementing strong, practical standards for car emissions nationwide will help fight pollution here in North Carolina.”

Cooper has long pushed to clean up air pollution that harms North Carolina’s environment, economy and the health of its people. He won a landmark settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority to reduce emissions from power plants upwind of North Carolina. He is a strong supporter of North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act, which requires coal-fired power plants in our state to cut harmful emissions, and has also asked the federal government to force power plants in 13 other states that contribute dirty air to North Carolina to clean up.


Poor air quality threatens the health of more than 150 million people in the U.S., with children, seniors, and those suffering from respiratory diseases especially at risk.   Air pollution-related illnesses are estimated to cost the U.S. $150 billion per year.


“By setting more stringent emission standards for new passenger cars and trucks and cutting the allowable sulfur content in gasoline, the Tier 3 standards would reduce nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds by 80 percent and particulate matter by 70 percent. These reductions would go a long way toward limiting the production of smog,” Cooper and the others wrote to the EPA.


In the U.S., motor vehicles are responsible for a majority of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and about 30 percent of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. These pollutants contribute to smog and soot pollution, which cause respiratory and heart disease.


The proposed new standards for vehicle emissions are expected to prevent as many as 23,000 cases of respiratory illness in children, 22,000 asthma attacks and 2,400 premature deaths each year.  The National Association of Clean Air Agencies estimates that implementing the new standards would cut emissions as much as taking 33 million cars and trucks off the road.


The stronger standards would also benefit the nation’s economy through lower health care costs and additional jobs, and are supported by the nation’s automakers.


EPA’s Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards were published in the Federal Register on May 21, 2013 and would set new emission standards for passenger cars, light-duty trucks and certain medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles starting in 2017. The rule's proposed tailpipe standards, which would limit emissions of smog-producing NOx and VOCs and soot pollution, would be phased in between 2017 and 2025. Proposed standards reducing allowable sulfur content of motor vehicle fuels would go into effectJanuary 1, 2017.


Signing this week’s letter in addition to Cooper were the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine,Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia and the Corporation Counsels of Chicago and New York City.