Release 97-13

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              CONTACT: Jerry Martin/Allen Hirsch
June 3, 1997                                                                                                                   Richard Varenchik
                                                                                                                                         (916) 322- 2990

ARB Announces $1.3 Million Settlement with General Motors

        SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board (ARB) today announced it has reached a $1.3 million settlement with General Motors Corporation (GM) for potential violations of California motor vehicle emission standards. The settlement includes $500,000 for the ARB s ongoing research project to determine the effects of air pollution on children.

        Today s settlement agreement with GM sends a clear and powerful message to industry that full and complete environmental compliance is a necessity and not an option, said Peter Rooney, Acting Secretary for Environmental Protection. This settlement also stipulates that today s fine will be used for protecting and improving the public health of California s children, he added.

        According to ARB data, at least 18 tons of added carbon monoxide were emitted each day from Cadillacs built between 1991 through 1995 equipped with 4.9 liter engines. As a result of ARB analysis in this investigation, General Motors has subjected about 45,000 Cadillacs built between 1991 and 1993 to a California recall program. Vehicles built after the 1993 model year are not subject to recall.

        The settlement brings to an end a prolonged investigation by the ARB. The ARB and USEPA were concerned about changes made to computer software on 1991 model year and later Cadillacs equipped with 4.9 liter engines, which reduced the effectiveness of emission control equipment when the automatic air conditioning and heating units are engaged causing increased emissions. Analysis of the potential emissions showed that carbon monoxide exhaust from some Cadillacs increased by up to 400 percent when the automatic climate control equipment was used.

        ARB Chairman John Dunlap said, This settlement completes a year long investigation into possible violations of air quality rules and provides Californians with support for continuing research on how air pollution affects the health of our children.

        The substantial size of the settlement reflects the high number of vehicles involved and the added pollution they emitted, Dunlap added.

        Under the agreement, GM will provide a $600,000 payment to the California Air Pollution Control Fund and will contribute $500,000 to the ARB to help fund a University of Southern California study to better determine the long-term effects of air pollution on children. That 10 year research project, the most complete and comprehensive air pollution effects study ever conducted on children, was developed by the ARB and has been operating in 12 California cities for the past five years. GM will also provide the ARB with six electric vehicles to use for a long-term evaluation.

        In addition, General Motors agreed to spend as much as $10 million nationwide to mitigate air pollution that could be emitted from 1991-1995 Cadillacs equipped with 4.9 liter engines. Under those settlement terms, California will receive about 40 percent of those funds, part of which are expected to be used to upgrade the battery packages of GM manufactured electric vehicles.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB s mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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