Dept. of Ecology to update state's 'clean cars' law

The public is invited to review and comment on proposed routine updates to Washington’s rule for low emission vehicle (“clean car”) standards.

In 2005, Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Washington Legislature adopted California’s vehicle emissions standards. Washington’s clean cars regulation requires that many new vehicles meet California’s standards to be registered for use in Washington. The controls limit emissions of greenhouse gases and common air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter.

The standards apply to 2009 and newer model year passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles (such as most vans and SUVs). They don’t apply to older vehicles already owned by Washington residents.

The Legislature requires Ecology to update Chapter 173-423 WAC (Low Emission Vehicles) when California changes its clean car regulations. This rule making will ensure that Washington stays consistent with the California standards and complies with federal and state laws.

The proposed rule changes include updating motor vehicle emission standards for certain air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions; updating vehicle labeling requirements; giving manufacturers the option to use federal motor vehicle greenhouse gas standards to show compliance with California’s greenhouse gas limits. This is known as the “harmonization provision”; providing an option for manufacturers to show how they meet greenhouse gas limits across multiple states instead of on a state-by-state basis. This is known as “compliance pooling”; updating requirements for on-board diagnostic systems; clarifying an exemption for emergency vehicles; repealing reporting requirements for emission-related equipment and required corrective action (Article 5) repealed by California in 2008; making other changes as needed to be consistent with the California standards; and making other minor technical and administrative changes to help users comply with the rule.

You can find the proposed updates on Ecology’s air quality rules online at

The Dept. of Ecology will accept comments through Nov. 14, 2012. You can submit your comments by testifying or submitting written comments at a public hearing on Weds., Nov. 7. The hearing will start at 6 p.m. at the Dept. of Ecology’s headquarters, located at 300 Desmond Drive SE, in Lacey; e-mailing your comments to; mailing comments to Neil Caudill, Washington Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600; or faxing comments to (360) 407-7534. The Dept. of Ecology will review and consider all comments. The comments will be summarized in a document, along with Ecology’s responses. The proposed changes may be modified based on public comments.

The Dept. of Ecology expects to adopt the updated rule by the end of this year.

Washington State Department of Ecology