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Pollution Bill in the Spotlight Today

April 7, 2008

St. Paul, MN - It's "decision day" at the State Capitol for legislation that would reduce tailpipe emissions from vehicles sold in Minnesota. House sponsor Melissa Hortman says the bill would require auto manufacturers to offer more efficient cars that emit less pollution, starting in four years.

"Some of the changes that would be made would be more proficient air conditioning systems, more fuel efficiency, and other technological improvements in the engine, like direct injection technology, to prevent contaminants from coming out the tailpipe."

Hortman says the bill addresses two key concerns.

"The first concern is over smog-producing contaminants. Minnesota is having more and more air quality alert days, and more problems with people's health related to the smog-related pollutants. The other reason we need the standard is because of the greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. About 30 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and trucks."

Hortman says the bill is modeled on one of the recommendations from a Governor's advisory group that studied ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Proponents of the ethanol industry are concerned that the bill could lower demand for the corn-based fuel, but Hortman insists that is not the case.

"The bill is actually very good for ethanol, because one way that auto manufacturers can produce more efficient vehicles is to produce more flex-fuel vehicles. Vehicles burning E-85 are much less polluting than vehicles burning regular gasoline. So actually, the bill has a built-in incentive for more E-85 fueling infrastructure and more flex-fuel vehicles produced and sold."

The bill to limit pollution emissions has an "informational hearing" this afternoon, before a joint legislative committee.

Jim Wishner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MN