2003 Finalist
State of California
Innovations in American Government Awards
Sponsored By:
Innovations in American Government Awards

The Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1990 precludes all states except California from adopting mobile source emissions standards more stringent than the federal government. In December of 2000, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) implemented requirements to reduce emissions from all new diesel engines. These new, stricter state regulations were intended to close a gap in federal emissions policy. Under the provisions of Section 177 of the CAA, other states may "opt in" to California's requirements and receive support for implementation.

The Multi-State Clean Diesel Initiative (MSCDI) aids this process with the development of a "model state rule" that incorporates California's regulations and more readily conforms to individual state regulations. The initiative offers a facilitated process in which states use support materials and services to implement the model rule. According to MSCDI Executive Director S. William Becker, "the goal for this effort [is] for enough states to adopt California's requirements so that a critical mass of engine sales [will be] affected."

This initiative is administered by the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators (STAPPA) and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials (ALAPCO). Through this coordinated effort, these groups are able to support participating states with background information, "how-to" instructions, workshops, and a Web-based clearinghouse of documents and pertinent information. These resources facilitate interaction and sharing of legal, policy, and technical expertise among participants.

New Hampshire was the first state to attempt adoption. Due to opposition from industry representatives, New Hampshire was not able to pass the model rule. The resistance was in response to the law's requirement that diesel engines to pass a new testing procedure called "not-to-exceed" (NTE). Earlier testing procedures had been subject to deception by electronic engine controls, which could maximize fuel efficiency, but were able to produce three times the emissions of federal standards. The NTE testing procedure proves far more effective and comprehensive, forcing the industry to comply. The 2000 requirements promulgated under CARB pushed the effective date of implementation from 2007 to 2005.

The arguments encountered in New Hampshire were met in every state that followed in attempting to adopt the CARB regulations. The STAPPA/ALAPCO secretariat was able to coordinate an effective response to these arguments. The responses, combined with interactive platforms provided by the MSCDI, allowed states to rely upon each other as resources in testifying against and overcoming arguments from industry

These tools, provided by the MSCDI, resulted in the assembly of twelve states composed of varying ideological backgrounds from varying regions of the country. These states, under the common goal of reducing air pollution and protecting public health, successfully reduced national diesel sales by 41 percent. This result will push manufacturers to design all their 2005 engines to meet the California regulations. With a quarter of the nation's states, the MSCDI was able to compel a de facto national standard more stringent than that of the federal government.