Air quality implementation plans; approval and promulgation; various States: Rhode Island,

 
CONTENT

[Federal Register: December 22, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 245)]

[Proposed Rules]

[Page 71705-71708]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[DOCID:fr22de99-43]

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

40 CFR Part 52

[NH043-7170B; A-1-FRL-6514-1]

Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; New Hampshire and Rhode Island; Approval of National Low Emission Vehicle Program

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Proposed rule.

SUMMARY: EPA is proposing to approve State Implementation Plan (SIP) revisions submitted by both the States of New Hampshire and Rhode Island on August 16, 1999 and November 17, 1999, respectively, providing that the national low emission vehicle (National LEV) be an acceptable compliance option for new motor vehicles sold in each State. In New Hampshire's case, they are providing a commitment by rule to remain part of the National LEV program, and not adopt a California low emission vehicle (CAL LEV) program for the duration of National LEV. In the case of Rhode Island, they have modified their CAL LEV rule to allow the national low emission vehicle program to be a compliance alternative under their rule. Auto manufacturers have agreed to sell these cleaner vehicles throughout each of these States for the duration of the National LEV program. These SIP revisions are required as part of the agreement between States and automobile manufacturers to ensure the continuation of this program to bring clean cars throughout the country, beginning with 1999 model year vehicles.

EPA is soliciting public comments on the issues discussed in this proposal or on other relevant matters. These comments will be considered before EPA takes final action. Interested parties may participate in the Federal rulemaking procedure by submitting written comments to the EPA Regional office listed in the ADDRESSES section of this action.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before January 21, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be mailed to Susan Studlien, Deputy Director, Office of Ecosystem Protection (mail code CAA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region I, One Congress Street, Suite 1100, Boston, MA 02114. Copies of the State submittal and EPA's technical support document are available for public inspection during normal business hours, by appointment, at the Office of Ecosystem Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region I, One Congress Street, 11th floor, Boston, MA, and Air and Radiation Docket and Information Center, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M Street, S.W., (LE-131), Washington, D.C. 20460. In addition, the information for each respective State is available at the Air Resources Division, Department of Environmental Services, 6 Hazen Drive, P.O. Box 95, Concord, NH 03302-0095, and Division of Air and Hazardous Materials, Department of Environmental Management, 291 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908- 5767.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert C. Judge, (617) 918-1045.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

  1. Background

    On January 7, 1998, (63 FR 926) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule outlining a voluntary nationwide clean car program, designed to reduce smog and other pollution from new motor vehicles. The National LEV regulations allow auto manufacturers to commit to meet tailpipe standards for cars and light-duty trucks that are more stringent than EPA can mandate for the model years affected. The regulations provided that the program would come into effect only if northeastern States and the auto manufacturers voluntarily signed up for it. On March 9, 1998 (63 FR 11374), EPA found that nine northeastern States and

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    23 manufacturers had opted into the National LEV program and that the program is in effect. Now that it is in effect, National LEV is enforceable in the same manner as any other federal new motor vehicle program. National LEV will achieve significant air pollution reductions nationwide. In addition, the program provides substantial harmonization of federal and California new motor vehicle standards and test procedures, which enables manufacturers to design and test vehicles to one set of standards nationwide. The National LEV program demonstrates how cooperative, partnership efforts can produce a smarter, cheaper 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 nitrogen 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 are estimated to cost an additional $76 above the price of vehicles otherwise required today, but it is expected that due to factors such as economies of scale and historical trends related to emission control costs, the per vehicle cost will be even lower. This 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 come into effect, and will remain in effect, only if the Northeastern State and auto manufacturer participants 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 is to be made through SIP revisions that incorporate the State commitments to National LEV in State regulations, which EPA will approve into the federally-enforceable SIPs. 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 the revision as adequately committing the State to the National LEV program. In today's action, EPA is proposing to approve the National LEV SIP revisions for New Hampshire and Rhode Island as adequately committing each State to the program. EPA expects to take similar actions for the other States that have elected to join the National LEV program in the future.

    Rhode Island has adopted a State clean vehicle program identical to the CAL LEV program (without the zero emission vehicle requirements) pursuant to section 177 of the Clean Air Act. The State has also modified that regulation accepting compliance with National LEV as an alternative for auto manufacturers to comply with the CAL LEV requirements. Rhode Island's regulation now provides that for the duration of the State's participation in National LEV, manufacturers may comply with National LEV or equally stringent mandatory federal standards in lieu of compliance with a State program adopted pursuant to section 177. The regulation accepts 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 regulation further provides that the State's participation in National LEV extends until model year 2006, if by December 15, 2000, EPA adopts mandatory standards at least as stringent as the National LEV standards and such standards would apply to new motor vehicles beginning in model year 2004, 2005 or 2006. If EPA does not adopt such standards by that date, the State's participation in National LEV would extend only until model year 2004. Through these rules, and an earlier February 22, 1999 submittal, Rhode Island has adequately committed to the National LEV program, as provided in the final National LEV rule.

    New Hampshire did not adopt a State clean vehicle program identical to the CAL LEV program pursuant to section 177 of the Clean Air Act. Instead, the State adopted a regulation accepting compliance with National LEV as the State's clean vehicle program, and forgoing their right to adopt a CAL LEV program. New Hampshire's regulation provides that for the duration of the State's participation in National LEV, manufacturers may comply with National LEV or equally stringent mandatory federal standards in lieu of compliance with any State program adopted pursuant to section 177. The regulation accepts 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 regulation further provides that the State's participation in National LEV extends until model year 2006, if by December 15, 2000, EPA adopts mandatory standards at least as stringent as the National LEV standards and such standards would apply to new motor vehicles beginning in model year 2004, 2005 or 2006. If EPA does not adopt such standards by that date, the State's participation in National LEV would extend only until model year 2004. Through these regulations, New Hampshire has adequately committed to the National LEV program, as provided in the final National LEV rule.

    The final National LEV rule also stated that if States submitted SIP revisions containing language substantively identical to the language in the regulations without additional conditions, and if the submissions met the Clean Air Act requirements for approvable SIP submissions, EPA would not need to go through notice-and-comment rulemaking to approve the SIP revisions. In the National LEV rulemaking, EPA already provided full opportunity for public comment on the language for the SIP revisions. Thus, as discussed in more detail in the final rule, the requirements for EPA approval are easily verified objective criteria. See 63 FR 936 (January 7, 1998). While EPA believes that it could have appropriately approved the New Hampshire and Rhode Island submissions without providing for additional notice and comment, EPA nonetheless decided to propose approval of this action, which allows an opportunity for further public comment. Here, EPA is not under a timing constraint that would support a shorter rulemaking process, and thus EPA decided there was no need to deviate from the Agency's usual procedures for SIP approvals.

    Proposed Action

    EPA has evaluated the submitted SIP revisions submitted by New Hampshire and Rhode Island and has determined that they are consistent with the EPA National LEV regulations and meet the section 110 requirements for SIP approvals. Therefore, EPA is proposing approval of the New Hampshire and Rhode Island low emission vehicle rules as submitted on August 16, 1999 and November 17, 1999, respectively, into the New Hampshire and Rhode Island SIP.

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    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.

  2. Administrative Requirements

    1. Executive Order 12866

      The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has exempted this regulatory action from Executive Order 12866, entitled ``Regulatory Planning and Review.''

    2. Executive Order 13132

      Federalism (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999) revokes and replaces Executive Orders 12612 (Federalism) and 12875 (Enhancing the Intergovernmental Partnership). Executive Order 13132 requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure ``meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the development of regulatory policies that have federalism implications.'' ``Policies that have federalism implications'' is defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that 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.'' Under Executive Order 13132, EPA may not issue a regulation that has federalism implications, that imposes substantial direct compliance costs, and that is not required by statute, unless the Federal government provides the funds necessary to pay the direct compliance costs incurred by State and local governments, or EPA consults with State and local officials early in the process of developing the proposed regulation. EPA also may not issue a regulation that has federalism implications and that preempts State law unless the Agency consults with State and local officials early in the process of developing the proposed regulation.

      This proposed 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, because it merely approves a state rule implementing a voluntary standard, and does not alter the relationship or the distribution of power and responsibilities established in the Clean Air Act. Thus, the requirements of section 6 of the Executive Order do not apply to this rule.

    3. Executive Order 13045

      Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997), applies to any rule that: (1) is determined to be ``economically significant'' as defined under Executive Order 12866, and (2) concerns an environmental health or safety risk that EPA has reason to believe may have a disproportionate effect on children. If the regulatory action meets both criteria, the Agency must evaluate the environmental health or safety effects of the planned rule on children, and explain why the planned regulation is preferable to other potentially effective and reasonably feasible alternatives considered by the Agency. This rule is not subject to Executive Order 13045 because it does not involve decisions intended to mitigate environmental health or safety risks.

    4. Executive Order 13084

      Under Executive Order 13084, EPA may not issue a regulation that is not required by statute, that significantly affects or uniquely affects the communities of Indian tribal governments, and that imposes substantial direct compliance costs on those communities, unless the Federal government provides the funds necessary to pay the direct compliance costs incurred by the tribal governments, or EPA consults with those governments. If EPA complies by consulting, Executive Order 13084 requires EPA to provide to the Office of Management and Budget, in a separately identified section of the preamble to the rule, a description of the extent of EPA's prior consultation with representatives of affected tribal governments, a summary of the nature of their concerns, and a statement supporting the need to issue the regulation. In addition, Executive Order 13084 requires EPA to develop an effective process permitting elected officials and other representatives of Indian tribal governments ``to provide meaningful and timely input in the development of regulatory policies on matters that significantly or uniquely affect their communities.''

      Today's rule does not significantly or uniquely affect the communities of Indian tribal governments. This action does not involve or impose any requirements that affect Indian Tribes. Accordingly, the requirements of section 3(b) of Executive Order 13084 do not apply to this rule.

    5. Regulatory Flexibility

      The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) generally requires an agency to conduct a regulatory flexibility analysis of any rule subject to notice and comment rulemaking requirements unless the agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Small entities include small businesses, small not-for-profit enterprises, and small governmental jurisdictions.

      This proposed rule will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities because SIP approvals under section 110 and subchapter I, part D of the Clean Air Act do not create any new requirements but simply approve requirements that the State is already imposing. Therefore, because the Federal SIP approval does not create any new requirements, I certify that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

      Moreover, due to the nature of the Federal-State relationship under the Clean Air Act, preparation of flexibility analysis would constitute Federal inquiry into the economic reasonableness of state action. The Clean Air Act forbids EPA to base its actions concerning SIPs on such grounds. Union Electric Co. v. U.S. EPA, 427 U.S. 246, 255-66 (1976); 42 U.S.C. 7410(a)(2).

    6. Unfunded Mandates

      Under Sections 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (``Unfunded Mandates Act''), signed into law on March 22, 1995, EPA must prepare a budgetary impact statement to accompany any proposed or final rule that includes a Federal mandate that may result in estimated costs to State, local, or tribal governments in the aggregate; or to the private sector, of $100 million or more. Under Section 205, EPA must select the most cost-effective and least burdensome alternative that achieves the objectives of the rule and is consistent with statutory requirements. Section 203 requires EPA to establish a plan for informing and advising any small governments that may be significantly or uniquely impacted by the rule.

      EPA has determined that the approval action proposed does not include a Federal mandate that may result in estimated costs of $100 million or more to either State, local, or tribal governments in the aggregate, or to the private sector. This Federal action approves pre- existing requirements

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      under State or local law, and imposes no new requirements. Accordingly, no additional costs to State, local, or tribal governments, or to the private sector, result from this action.

      List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

      Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Carbon monoxide, Hydrocarbons, Intergovernmental relations, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

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

      Dated: December 14, 1999. John P. DeVillars, Regional Administrator, Region I.

      [FR Doc. 99-33155Filed12-21-99; 8:45 am]

      BILLING CODE 6560-50-P