Green Laws Force Companies to Act

Report from environmental vehicle conference in Washington this week.

Published: 30-Jan-2004

WASHINGTON - United Parcel Service Inc. will be using a fuel cell vehicle to deliver packages to Ann Arbor residents this fall, the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's transportation office said Wednesday.

Margo Oge said the project - sponsored by UPS, DaimlerChrysler AG and the EPA - is one of many research efforts under way in the race to develop more environmentally friendly vehicles.

''There is a tremendous energy and excitement going on,'' she said, whether engineers are redesigning conventional engines, developing cleaner diesel fuel or developing hybrid and fuel cell systems.

''Our job is not to dictate a specific technology, but we're very interested to see those technologies compete in the marketplace.''

Oge spoke at a daylong conference on environmentally friendly vehicles sponsored by two Japanese non-profits, the Japanese International Transport Institute and the Japan Automobile Standards Internationalization Center.

Officials said there is little time to waste. Japan will require vehicles to get 35.8 miles per gallon by 2010, a 3.4 percent improvement over current rates. The country also must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 11 percent between 2001 and 2010, said Kanji Nakayama, director of engineering and safety with Japan's Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport.

Nakayama said Japan wants to have 50,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road by 2010 and 5 million on the road by 2020.

Oge and Alan Lloyd, who is the head of the California Air Resources Board, said there is also a growing market for environmentally friendly vehicles in the United States. Oge said around 50 percent of buyers say they're interested in green vehicles.

Lloyd said he expects Californians will buy 20,000 hybrids and 195,000 low-emission vehicles such as the Ford Focus this year. He said he expects there will be 1 million zero-emissions vehicles on California roads by 2020.

Lloyd praised automakers for making 37 different models of low-emission vehicles available in 2004.

''I think the job that has been done has been just outstanding, and the breathers benefit from that,'' he said.

Oge said a regulation going into effect this year that requires sport utility vehicles to meet the same emissions standards as cars will prevent more than 4,000 deaths, while a clean diesel standard for trucks scheduled for 2007 will make trucks 90 percent cleaner than they were in 1990 and will prevent approximately 8,300 premature deaths and 750,000 respiratory illnesses.

''We have absolutely no choice,'' she said. ''I think we owe it to our generation, but more importantly, we owe this to future generations.''



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