Clean Car House

Testimony of

 Norris McDonald

Founder and President

African American Environmentalist Association

 On the

Maryland Clean Cars Act

[HB 564]


 Presented to the


 Environmental Matters Committee

Maryland House of Delegates

 March 2, 2005

            Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Norris McDonald and I am the founder and president of the African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA).  AAEA, founded in 1985, is an organization dedicated to protecting the environment, enhancing human, animal and plant ecologies and promoting the efficient use of natural resources.  AAEA includes an African American point of view in environmental policy decision-making and resolves environmental racism and injustice issues through the application of practical environmental solutions.

AAEA supports the Maryland Clean Cars Act (SB 366) and recommends that the committee should pass the legislation.  We believe that Maryland should join the eight other states with low-emission vehicle laws:

  1. New Jersey,
  2. New York,
  3. Massachusetts,
  4. Vermont,
  5. Maine,
  6. Connecticut
  7. Rhode Island, and
  8. California.

California pioneered the low-emission vehicle (LEV) standards in 1990.  The updated 1998 standards are known as LEV II.  A Maryland Clean Cars Act Program would reduce air pollution in our great state. HB 564 would require the Department of the Environment and the Motor Vehicle Administration to adopt regulations by June 1, 2006 to establish a low emissions vehicle program applicable to vehicles of the model year 2009 and thereafter under specified circumstances and would require the Motor Vehicle Administration and the Department of the Environment to establish motor vehicle emissions standards and compliance requirements.

Auto pollution is among the leading sources of air pollution in Maryland.  Smog is a dangerous respiratory irritant that affects the health of tens of thousands of Marylanders every year. I am a chronic, acute asthmatic with specialized knowledge about the impacts of smog.  I have been intubated twice (1991 & 1996) due to respiratory failure attributable to air pollution.  My son also has asthma. Our children deserve clean air, a reduction in asthma, and increased national security through a reduction in our reliance on imported oil.  Unfortunately, Maryland is consistently in the top ten Clean Air Act nonattainment states.  Vehicle emissions improvements will protect our children from these threats. Increasing the use of low-emission vehicles would also reduce Maryland’s contribution to global climate change.

In addition to establishing rules for tailpipe and evaporative emissions, the LEV II standards include a requirement that 12 percent of all vehicles sold in Maryland will have to be zero-emission vehicles beginning in model year 2012 (18% in 2018 and thereafter).

The bill states that, “To minimize the administrative impact of the program and to minimize the impact of motor vehicle emissions generated out of state on the air quality of this state, the department may adopt California regulations, procedures, and certification data by reference.”   The key elements of the LEV II zero emission vehicle (ZEV) advanced technology requirement are:

·        Pure ZEVs

·        Partial ZEV (PZEVs)

·        Advanced technology PZEV (AT-PZRVs)

Automakers have models on the market that are certified under LEV II as PZEVs:

  • Ford Focus,
  • BMW 325i,
  • VW Jetta,
  • Volvo S60 and S70,
  • Honda Accord,
  • Honda Civic GX,
  • Nissan XE/GXE, and
  • Toyota Camry.

The current generation of hybrid gas-electric vehicles is approximately 90 percent cleaner than the average vehicle on sale today. Such vehicles are on sale now or will be soon:

  • Prius sedan
  • Lexus RX 400h SUV
  • Highlander SUV
  • Insight, two-seater
  • Midsize SUV
Ford Motor
  • Escape SUV
  • Mercury Mariner SUV
  • Mazda Tribute SUV
  • Ford Fusion sedan
General Motors
  • Saturn Vue SUV, Chevrolet Malibu sedan
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Altima sedan


  • Dodge Durango

The Toyota Prius is certified as AT-PZEV, as are compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.  And if you have to buy an SUV, help the air and buy a hybrid.

It is our hope that LEV programs will accelerate the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.  Some estimates put such commercialization 20 years from now.  Not only is commercialization of the vehicle a challenge, convenient fueling must also be attained. Maryland should lead the way in building this new transportation system.  

In conclusion, the LEV II standards would provide significant benefits to air quality in Maryland.