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  Taking The Hill
Posted 4/17/2006
By Caroline Fuller

New Proposal Issued to Measure VOC Emissions

Representatives from some members of the paint and coatings industry are prompting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to institute a nationwide system for states to measure and calculate volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions. This proposal would set two different baselines for determining emissions levels. California and some northeastern states would be assigned a lesser baseline as their current paint and coatings regulations are strict. All other states would be given a higher baseline because of their less stringent regulations currently in place.

This approach has prompted criticism from state officials citing that the proposal could affect the level of enforcement states set to regulate emissions and control ozone. Controversy over the control the EPA should have in guiding states in measuring paint and coating emissions continues with this new proposal. Some industry officials believe all states should function under the same guidelines. However, states want individual control. In the past, the EPA has offered to provide either guidance on this issue or to set rules controlling VOC emissions.

DOE Announces Funds for Fuel Cell Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $119 million in funding to advance hydrogen fuel cell development in hopes of promoting hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

It was also announced that $100 million of the funding will provide more than four years of research projects aimed at improving fuel cell membranes, innovative fuel cell concepts and the effects of impurities on fuel cell performance and durability.

The remaining $19 million will be dispersed among 12 selected cost-shared projects targeted at polymer membrane research. The polymer membrane is a vital component of the fuel cell system and uses hydrogen to create electricity to fuel vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have the probability of reducing vehicle emissions dramatically. All of the projects associated with the $119 million in funding are part of the president's ongoing effort to reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil supplies.

NHTSA Proposal Would Rate Safety

To better inform consumers about safety ratings, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a proposal that would require car manufacturers to display safety information on windshield stickers. The ratings would be displayed using a "star" system with five stars being the highest rating and one star as the lowest.

Included on the sticker will be federal crash test ratings, as well as price, fuel economy and equipment ratings. Besides support from NHTSA, Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, is creating a legislative mandate for the proposal. Included in the sticker will be information about NHTSA's Web site, which will further educate consumers with pictures, crash scores and explanations.

There is some concern that there will be loopholes in the rating system and that it will not incorporate all of the necessary information that car buyers should be aware of before purchasing a new automobile. The new star rating system should appear on model year 2008 cars, sports-utility vehicles, vans and small buses. Honda Motor Co. currently displays its crash ratings on 2006 model vehicles.

As "Right to Repair" continues to be a top priority for ASA, please go to ASA's legislative Web site - - and view the latest updates and requests for action.

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