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Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; District of Columbia; Approval of National Low Emission Vehicle Program

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Direct final rule.

SUMMARY:

EPA is taking direct final action to approve a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the District of Columbia, which formalizes the District's commitment to accept sales of motor vehicles that comply with the requirements of the National Low Emission Vehicle (National LEV) program.

The District of Columbia submitted its National LEV SIP revision to EPA on February 16, 2000. Through its adopted regulations submitted as part of its National LEV SIP revision, the District has agreed to the sale of National LEV compliant vehicles within its borders, in lieu of implementation of a California LEV program. Under the National LEV Program, auto manufacturers have agreed to sell cleaner vehicles meeting National LEV standards throughout the District and other participating states for the duration of the manufacturers' commitments to the National LEV Program. A SIP revision from each participating state is required as part of the agreement between the states and automobile manufacturers to ensure continuation of the National LEV Program to supply clean cars throughout most of the country. The sale of vehicles complying with the National LEV program standards began with 1999 model year vehicles in Northeast states. The National LEV program will then be expanded to include states outside the Northeast beginning with 2001 model year vehicles.

DATES:

This rule is effective on September 18, 2000 without further notice, unless EPA receives adverse comment by August 21, 2000. If we receive such comment, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register informing the public that this rule will not take effect.

ADDRESSES:

Written comments should be mailed to David L. Arnold, Chief, Ozone and Mobile Sources Branch, Mailcode 3AP21, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Start Printed Page 4498219103. Copies of the documents relevant to this action are available for public inspection during normal business hours at the Air Protection Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103; or at the Air and Radiation Docket and Information Center, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M Street, SW., Washington, DC 20460. Copies of District of Columbia-specific materials may be reviewed at the District's offices at: District of Columbia Department of Public Health, Air Quality Division, 51 N Street, NE., Washington, DC 20002.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Brian K. Rehn, (215) 814-2176, or by e-mail at rehn.brian@epa.gov

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

The National Low Emission Vehicle (National LEV) program is a voluntary, nationwide clean car program, designed to reduce ground level ozone (or smog) and other air pollution produced by emissions from newly manufactured motor vehicles. On June 6, 1997 (62 FR 31192) and on January 7, 1998 (63 FR 926), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated rules outlining the framework for the National LEV program. These National LEV regulations allow auto manufacturers to commit to meet tailpipe standards for cars and light-duty trucks that are more stringent than EPA could otherwise mandate under the authority of the Clean Air Act in that time frame. The regulations provided that the program would come into effect only if Northeast states and auto manufacturers agreed to participate. On March 9, 1998 (63 FR 11374), EPA published a finding that the program was in effect. Nine northeastern states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and the District of Columbia) and 23 auto manufacturers (BMW, Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Saab, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo) opted to participate in the National LEV program. Once in effect, the National LEV Program became enforceable in the same manner as any other Federal new motor vehicle emission control program.

The National LEV Program will achieve significant air pollution reductions nationwide. In addition, the program provides substantial harmonization of Federal and California standards for new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle test procedures. This program enables manufacturers to move towards the design and testing of vehicles to satisfy one set of nationwide standards. The National LEV Program demonstrates how cooperative partnership efforts can produce a smarter, cheaper emissions control program that reduces regulatory burden while increasing protection of the environment and public health.

The National LEV Program will result in substantial reductions in non-methane organic gases (NMOG) and nitrous oxides (NOX), which contribute to unhealthy levels of smog in many areas across the country. National LEV vehicles are 70% cleaner than today's model requirements under the Clean Air Act. This voluntary program provides auto manufacturers flexibility in meeting the associated standards as well as the opportunity to harmonize their production lines and make vehicles more efficiently. National LEV vehicles were estimated to cost an additional $76 above the price of vehicles otherwise required today, but the actual per vehicle cost is now expected to be even lower, due to factors such as economies of scale and historical trends related to emission control costs. This predicted incremental cost is less than 0.5% of the price of an average new car. In addition, the National LEV Program will help ozone nonattainment areas across the country improve their air quality, as well as reduce pressure to make further, more costly emission reductions from stationary industrial sources.

Because it is a voluntary program, National LEV was set up to take effect, and will remain in effect, only if the participating auto manufacturers and Northeastern States commit to the program and abide by their commitments. The states and manufacturers initially committed to the program through opt-in notifications to EPA, which were sufficient for EPA to find that National LEV had come into effect. The National LEV regulations provide that the second stage of the state commitments are to be made through SIP revisions that incorporate those state commitments to National LEV into state regulations. EPA will then take rulemaking action to approve each state's regulation into its respective federally-enforceable SIP. The National LEV regulations laid out the elements to be incorporated in the SIP revisions, the timing for such revisions, and the language (or substantively similar language) that needs to be included in a SIP revision to allow EPA to approve that revision as adequately committing the state to the National LEV Program. In today's action, EPA is approving the National LEV SIP revision for the District of Columbia as adequately committing the District to the program. With this rulemaking action, EPA will have completed rulemaking action to approve commitments to the National LEV program by all the Northeast states that have elected to join the National LEV Program.

II. EPA's Evaluation of the District's Submittal

At present, the District of Columbia has not exercised the option, pursuant to section 177 of the Clean Air Act, to adopt state standards to regulate new motor vehicles identical to California's LEV program. Rather, the District adopted regulations that provide for the National LEV Program to be in place. These provide that for the duration of the District's participation in the National LEV program, manufacturers may comply with National LEV standards or equally stringent mandatory Federal standards in lieu of compliance with any state-adopted California LEV program pursuant to section 177 of the Clean Air Act. The District has adopted regulations that accept National LEV as a compliance alternative for requirements applicable to passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty trucks designed to operate on gasoline. The District's regulation provides for participation in the National LEV program until model year 2006. Through its regulations, which were submitted to EPA as a SIP revision, the District of Columbia has adequately committed to the National LEV Program, as provided in the final National LEV rule.

EPA's final National LEV rule stated that if a state submits a SIP revision containing regulatory language substantively identical to the language in EPA's regulation without additional conditions, and if such a submission otherwise meets the Clean Air Act requirements for approvable SIP submissions, EPA would not need to conduct notice-and-comment rulemaking to approve that SIP revisions. In its National LEV rulemaking, EPA provided full opportunity for public comment on the language to be contained in each state's subsequent SIP revision. Thus, as discussed in more detail in the EPA National LEV final rule, the requirements for EPA SIP approval are easily verified objective criteria (see 63 FR 936, January 7, 1998). While we could appropriately approve the submission from the District of Columbia without providing for additional notice and requesting comments, we have nonetheless Start Printed Page 44983decided to take this action in the form of a direct final rulemaking, which allows an opportunity for further public comment. In this instance, EPA is not under a timing constraint that would support a shorter rulemaking process, and thus we have decided there is no need to deviate from the Agency's usual procedures for SIP approvals.

III. Final Action

EPA has evaluated the SIP revision submitted by the District of Columbia. The Agency has determined that this SIP revision is consistent with the EPA National LEV regulations and satisfies the general SIP approval requirements of section 110 of the Clean Air Act. Therefore, EPA is approving the District of Columbia low emission vehicle rule submitted on February 16, 2000 into the District's SIP.

EPA is publishing this rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial amendment and anticipates no adverse comments. However, in the “Proposed Rules” section of this Federal Register publication, EPA is publishing a separate document that will serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision if adverse comments are filed. This rule will be effective September 18, 2000 without further notice, unless the Agency receives adverse comment by August 21, 2000.

If EPA receives adverse comment, we will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect. EPA will address all public comments received in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting must do so at this time.

Nothing in this action should be construed as permitting or establishing a precedent for any future request for revision to any State implementation plan. Each request for revision to the State implementation plan shall be considered separately in light of specific technical, economic, and environmental factors and in relation to relevant statutory and regulatory requirements.

IV. Administrative Requirements

A. General Requirements

Under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993), this action is not a “significant regulatory action” and therefore is not subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget. This action merely approves state law as meeting federal requirements and imposes no additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. Accordingly, the Administrator certifies that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). Because this rule approves pre-existing requirements under state law and does not impose any additional enforceable duty beyond that required by state law, it does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-4). For the same reason, this rule also does not significantly or uniquely affect the communities of tribal governments, as specified by Executive Order 13084 (63 FR 27655, May 10, 1998). This rule will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999), because it merely approves a state rule implementing a federal standard, and does not alter the relationship or the distribution of power and responsibilities established in the Clean Air Act. This rule also is not subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997), because it is not economically significant.

In reviewing SIP submissions, EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the Clean Air Act. In this context, in the absence of a prior existing requirement for the State to use voluntary consensus standards (VCS), EPA has no authority to disapprove a SIP submission for failure to use VCS. It would thus be inconsistent with applicable law for EPA, when it reviews a SIP submission, to use VCS in place of a SIP submission that otherwise satisfies the provisions of the Clean Air Act. Thus, the requirements of section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) do not apply. As required by section 3 of Executive Order 12988 (61 FR 4729, February 7, 1996), in issuing this rule, EPA has taken the necessary steps to eliminate drafting errors and ambiguity, minimize potential litigation, and provide a clear legal standard for affected conduct. EPA has complied with Executive Order 12630 (53 FR 8859, March 15, 1988) by examining the takings implications of the rule in accordance with the “Attorney General's Supplemental Guidelines for the Evaluation of Risk and Avoidance of Unanticipated Takings” issued under the executive order. This rule does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

B. Submission to Congress and the Comptroller General

The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. This rule is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

C. Petitions for Judicial Review

Under section 307(b)(1) of the Clean Air Act, petitions for judicial review of this action to approve the District of Columbia's National LEV Program SIP revision must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by September 18, 2000. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this rule for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2).)

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List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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Dated: June 30, 2000.

Bradley M. Campbell,

Regional Administrator, Region III.

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40 CFR part 52 is amended as follows:

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PART 52—[AMENDED]

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1. The authority citation for part 52 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

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Subpart J—District of Columbia

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2. In § 52.470, the entry for Chapter 9, section 915 entitled “National Low

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Identification of plan.
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(c) EPA approved regulations.

EPA—Approved District of Columbia Regulations

State citationTitle/subjectState effective dateEPA approval dateComments
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Chapter 9Motor Vehicle Pollutants, Lead, Odors, and Nuisance Pollutants
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Section 915National Low Emission Vehicle ProgramFebruary 11, 2000[July 20, 2000 and Federal Register cite]
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[FR Doc. 00-18108 Filed 7-19-00; 8:45 am]

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