The Senate passed an omnibus air-pollution bill yesterday giving the auto industry until 1980 to clean up its cars, instead of the 1982 deadline it sought. The vote was 73 to 7.
The bill also bars "significant deterioration" of the air in sections of the country, such as the great wilderness, open-space and park areas of the Western sates, which already have air cleaner than the federal standards. It provides that new power plants, cement plants, paper mills and the like may not be built in such areas if they add more than very small amounts of sulfur dioxide and particulates of matter to the air. The specific limits are set forth in the bill.
A third major provision applies mainly to cities and industrial area that still haven't reached minimum clean-air standards for public health and welfare - the so-called "dirty-air" sections of the country.
These areas, under previous legislation, were intended to reach the minimum clean-air standards by 1975 to 1977. But so many have failed to do so that the bill sets out a new compliance schedule giving them until 1982 on most pollutants, and 1987 on two others, provided they meet certain strict new requirements.
Included int hese requirements is a ban on construction of any new power plants, cement plants and other facilities that emit pollutants, unless they are built to achieve the cleanest possible operation, and unless emissions from each new plant are more than offset by reduced pollution from other existing plants in the area - on a source-by-source trade-off basis. The direct trade-off requirement for construction of a new plant may be dropped if the state can show that it is making enough progress in reducing overall pollution in the area to meet the final cleanup deadline.
The bill, steered to passage by Sen. Edmund S. Muskie (D-Maine) with strong support from the administration, the Democratic leadership and a big boost from Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.) on limiting the auto extension to only two years, now goes to conference with the House. [TEXT ILLEGIBLE] though only up to specified levels that wouldn't endanger public health.
A move to insert a similar exemption in the Senate bill was defeated Thursday, 61 to 33.
Some senators and spokesmen for public utilities and other industrial interests said the anti-deterioration provisions for existing clean-air areas and the limits on new plants in dirty-air areas, are so strict they may retard industrial development and block construction of new coal-fired steam-electric plants needed to convert electricity production as much as possible to plentiful coal. The provision of the bill allowing the source-by-source trade-off in dirty-air sections to be ignored if overall pollution is reduced is ddesigned to allay some of these fears.
According to Muskie and Robert T. Stafford (R-Vt.), Washington, Baltimore, Bethesda, Hyattsville, Silver Spring, Bethesda, Towson, Alexandria and Anne Arundel, Arlington and Fiarfax counties are among local jurisdictions where pollutants from automobiles have exceeded public health limits in recent years.
Before final passage, the Senate approved 46 to 43 an amendment by Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) permitting officials to order a plant to use local coal for fuel, if use of non-local fuels would disrupt the local economy or cause unemployment. Muskie opposed the amendment. A similar provision is in the House bill.
Also adopted was an amendment by Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.) which could conceivably allow two proposed power plants in the west to exceed pollution limits, if they win certain lawsuits. The plants were represented by the law partner of a former Jackson top aide. Jackson said, however, that he had offered the amendment in response to a request from local interests in his state.
The auto pollution section was the hardest-fought in the bill. In 1970 Congress voted to require that by 1976, new automobiles be engineered to reduce tailpipe pollution by 90 per cent from the level of 1970 cars.
But Detroit has insisted it couldn't meet the final deadlines by 1976 and so far has received three postponements. Under current law, the final deadlines apply to 1978 model year cars, but the industry asked that the final deadlines be postponed until the 1982 models.
The House gave it this extension but the Senate, with a big boost from a compromise amendment by Baker, adopted 56 to 38, granted postponement only until 1980 (except for American Motors and some other small companies which get to 1982).