Residents of Maspeth, south Elmhurst and Middle Village should be breathing easier in the next few years thanks to Governor George E. Pataki. The Governor recently announced that New York State will develop regulations to require new, cleaner California Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards for light and medium duty vehicles by 2004. The Juniper Park Civic Association has been fighting for years to toughen air quality standards for vehicles since Long Island Expressway traffic dumps tons of pollutants on our neighborhood each year.

“While New York’s air quality continues to improve, increases in travel and in the number and size of vehicles on the road have resulted in the need for further emissions reductions,” Governor Pataki said. 
“Adopting the California LEV II standards, the most stringent in the nation, will ensure that we provide cleaner air for our citizens and help us to meet federal air quality standards.”

New York first adopted the California LEV program in 1992 for passenger cars and light duty trucks up to 6,000 pounds. Earlier this year, California made changes to the program to make it more stringent.
The new program, known as LEV II, will require further reductions in emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides (NOx), make vehicle emissions control systems more durable, and regulate larger pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles the same as passenger cars. Under the Federal Clean Air Act, New York was required to adopt these changes or revert to less stringent, federal emissions standards.
Starting in model year 2004, New York also will require the LEVprogram for medium-duty vehicles, those weighing 8,500 to 14,000 pounds, which include larger pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles. The new
emission standards will greatly contribute to a reduction of air pollutants from motor vehicle emissions.

“Governor Pataki has led the nation in the fight to reduce air pollution and provide New Yorkers with cleaner air,” State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner John P. Cahill said. “This is another example of the Governor’s ongoing commitment to clean air issues and to providing cleaner, advanced technology vehicles for New York State.”

The LEV program requires that vehicles meet stringent California tailpipe and evaporative emission standards, and that each manufacturer’s annual sales fleet of vehicles meets a specific emission average, which gets lower each year through 2010.
In addition, starting with model year 2003, manufacturers must offer 10 percent of their sales as Zero Emission Vehicles. This 10 percent requirement can be reduced through the sale of other ultra clean technology vehicles, such as hybrids or those powered by fuel cells.
The new standards will have virtually no impact on the motoring public. Automobile manufacturers are only allowed to sell California certified vehicles in New York State. It is estimated that the price difference between California certified cars and those meeting the less stringent federal standards will be significantly less than 1 percent.
The Juniper Park Civic Association applauds Governor Pataki for helping make our air cleaner and for improving our quality of life.