Ecology is updating its ‘clean car’ standards

The public is invited to review and comment on proposed routine updates to Washington’s rule for low emission vehicle (“clean car”) standards. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7, 2012, in Lacey.

In 2005, Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Washington Legislature adopted California’s vehicle emissions standards. Washington’s clean cars regulation requires that many new vehicles meet California’s standards to be registered for use in Washington. The controls limit emissions of greenhouse gases and common air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter.

The standards apply to 2009 and newer model year passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles (such as most vans and SUVs). They don’t apply to older vehicles already owned by Washington residents.

The Legislature requires Ecology to update Chapter 173-423 WAC (Low Emission Vehicles) when California changes its clean car regulations. This rule making will ensure that Washington stays consistent with the California standards and complies with federal and state laws.

The proposed rule changes include the following:

• Update motor vehicle emission standards for certain air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.

• Update vehicle labeling requirements.

• Give manufacturers the option to use federal motor vehicle greenhouse gas standards to show compliance with California’s greenhouse gas limits. This is known as the “harmonization provision.”

• Provide an option for manufacturers to show how they meet greenhouse gas limits across multiple states instead of on a state-by-state basis. This is known as “compliance pooling.”

• Update requirements for on-board diagnostic systems.

• Clarify an exemption for emergency vehicles.

• Repeal reporting requirements for emission-related equipment and required corrective action (Article 5) repealed by California in 2008.

• Make other changes as needed to be consistent with the California standards.

• Make other minor technical and administrative changes to help users comply with the rule.

The proposed updates can be found on Ecology’s air quality rules web page and the department will accept comments through Nov. 14, 2012. Here’s how you can submit comments:

• Testify or submit written comments at a public hearing on Nov. 7. The hearing will start  at 6 p.m. at Ecology’s headquarters at 300 Desmond Drive SE in Lacey.

• Email your comments to

• Mail comments to Neil Caudill, Washington Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

• Fax them to 360-407-7534.

Ecology will review and consider all comments. The comments will be summarized in a document, along with Ecology’s responses. The proposed changes may be modified based on public comments. Ecology expects to adopt the updated rule by the end of 2012.

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