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JUNE 10, 1999  7:44 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
US Public Interest Research Group
Gene Karpinski and Rebecca Stanfield
U.S. PIRG’s Clean Air Now Campaign Tours the Nation With A Giant, Inflated SUV, Calling for Clean Up Of Polluting and Gas Guzzling Sport Utility Vehicles
 
WASHINGTON - June 10 - This week, U.S. PIRG kicks off a 40 U.S. city tour of "The Exterminator," a giant inflated SUV measuring 24 x 14 x 10 feet, and bearing an important message: CLEAN AIR NOW!

At each stop on the tour, the prop will be met by local and regional public health and environmental advocates for press events on the critical issue of automobile air pollution. Air pollution causes 40,000 premature deaths per year and tens of thousands of trips to the emergency room. Automobiles are the source of one-third of smog-forming air pollution; the popular and profitable Sport Utility Vehicles pollute three times more than a car, and use 33 percent more gasoline than a car due to loopholes in pollution and miles per gallon standards.

On May 1, President Clinton announced proposed new regulations that would require SUVs under 6,000 pounds to meet clean car standards on the same schedule as cars, from 2004-2007. Under the proposed rule, larger SUVs like the Ford Expedition would get a break and not have to clean up until 2009.

Moreover, the largest and dirtiest SUVs of all, like the new Ford Excursion, are not included in the rule because they are over 8500 pounds and therefore not classified as "light trucks." U.S. PIRG is calling upon EPA to strengthen the new rules before they are finalized later this year, requiring all SUVs to meet clean car standards by 2007.

U.S. miles-per-gallon standards also contain a loophole allowing SUVs to use 33% more gasoline than cars. Prodded by the auto and oil industries for the last four years, Congress has passed a rider on the appropriations bills prohibiting the Administration from changing fuel economy standards, known as CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. U.S. PIRG is calling on President Clinton to veto any bills prohibiting improvements in the nation’s fuel economy standards.

Tour Schedule:

June 9, Philadelphia – Contact David Masur, PennPIRG 215/732-3747

June 11, Atlanta – Contact Robert Pregulman, U.S. PIRG 404/892-3573

June 15, Denver – Contact Nick Johnson, CoPIRG 303/573-7474

June 16, Chicago -- Contact Diane Brown, Illinois PIRG 312/ 364-0096

June 17, Cleveland – Contact Amy Simpson, Ohio PIRG 216/791-1116

U.S. PIRG is the national advocacy office for the state Public Interest Research Groups. State PIRGs are environmental and consumer watchdog organizations active across the nation.

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