President Carter and environmentalists won a significant victory yesterday as the House Commerce Committee rejected by a tie vote an auto industry proposal that would have delayed and weakened auto pollution emission standsrds.
Instead, the committee accepted 30-12 a Carter administration proposal that is a compromise between teh auto industry position and House and Senate bills.
The key 21 to 21 tie vote came on an amendment to the clean air act by Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rep. James Broyhill (R-N.C.) that was backed by auto manufacturers, the United Auto Workers, the AFL-CIO and auto parts makers. The Dingell-Broyhill amendment would have delayed the imposition of tighter controls on the tailpipe emissions of cars for two years.
In addition, while tightening standards somewhat for the model year 1980, the amendment would never have reached the standards for two pollutants, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen, that Congress mandated in the 1970 clean air act.
President Carter's proposal would grant the auto companies a one-year delay before phasing in, in graduated steps, tighter standards on all three auto exhaust pollutants, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxides and nitrous oxides.
Lobbying up to and during yesterday's committee meeting was intense. President Carter made phone calls to committee members during the session. At least three members, Reps. Thomas Luken (D-Ohio), Bob Gammage (D-Tex.) and Martin Russo (D-Iill.) received phone calls from Carter. In the end all three voted for the Dingell-Broyhill amendment.
The auto industry and labor also put intensive pressure on members to vote for the amendment.
On the tie vote the key turned out to be a vote by Rep. Tim Lee Carter (R-Ky.) who voted for President Carter's compromise, though in past years he had supported Dingell and the auto industry.
On Monday, Rep. Paul Rogers (D-Fla.), who, as chairman of the Health subcommittee is shepharding the clean air act through the House, accepted an amendment that Rep. Carter wanted which would relax slightly the clean air standards for Carter's Kentucky district and other areas.
The Kentucky congressman denied he and Rogers had "cut a deal" but acknowledged he felt the law cost his district, which he said was poor and needed more industry, "a penalty," Rogers agreed that Rep. Carte had never promised him his vote, but said he thought accepting the amendment might have "helped."