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Connecticut 'Clean Car' Tax on Larger Vehicles Threatens Safety and Vehicle Choice While Doing Nothing for Air Quality

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 -- Potential regulations from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CTDEP) will single out and unfairly penalize families, farmers, small business owners, boaters and other recreational enthusiasts simply for having the audacity to buy the vehicles they need.

"This is all about political correctness and demonizing some vehicle owners, not about cleaning the air," said Ron DeFore, communications director for SUVOA, a non-profit group founded to protect the rights of owners of SUVs, pickups and vans.

"With prices at the pump at an all-time high, imposing still another onerous tax on those who need larger vehicles would qualify as cruel and unusual punishment."

CTDEP on September 8 will consider levying a new tax on owners of larger vehicles, such as SUVs and pickups, under the Connecticut Clean Car Incentive Program.

DeFore said, "Has it come to this in the United States where personal transportation choices now must meet some egalitarian litmus test decided by bureaucrats who use 'clean air' as the bogeyman to make it seem more palatable?"

According to DeFore, "Apparently CDTEP is unaware that gasoline consumption is not directly related to vehicle pollution, which by the way is almost non-existent in today's new vehicles." He pointed to these facts:

   * Vehicle emissions standards are set by the U.S. Environmental
     Protection Agency and have become increasingly stringent and uniform in
     recent years.  Thus, a Lincoln Town Car must meet the same tailpipe
     emissions standards as a Honda Civic.

   * Regulations for model year 2006 require that most new light trucks
     (SUVs, pickups, minivans and vans emit no more nitrogen oxide (NOx) or
     volatile organic compounds (VOC), the two emissions that react together
     to form ground-level ozone (smog), than new cars.  Further, they are
     cleaner of NOx emissions than even cars were as recently as 2001.

   * Nearly all vehicles - cars, SUVs, pickups and vans - are 99 percent
     cleaner than their 1960s counterparts.

   * A 2004 Ford Explorer driven from Hartford to Fresno, California and
     back pollutes less than a 1968 Ford Fairlane driven one way from
     Hartford to New Haven.

DeFore explained that the EPA ranks Connecticut's air quality as moderate and the State has until 2010 to meet federal standards. With federal vehicle emission requirements more stringent through 2008, and the departure from the fleet of older, much dirtier vehicles, the State's air will become increasingly clean without the need for a retribution tax.

"Sadly, no matter how much progress is made in cleaning up the air, there are those who not only fail to acknowledge it, but now demand certain vehicle owners to wear a millstone around their necks in the form of a castigatory tax. SUV and other light truck owners want the best fuel economy and clean air achievable as much as anyone else."

"If anything, such a tax would have a doubly negative effect-harm people financially and encourage them to hold on to their older vehicles without the latest safety, emissions and fuel economy enhancements," he said. "Why would they hold on to the older vehicles? Because most people who own these vehicles need them and are not going to buy something smaller."

"The immutable laws of physics dictate that larger vehicles are safer than smaller vehicles. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conclusively demonstrate that when all other factors are held equal (air bags, belt usage, driver behavior, stability control systems, etc.), large vehicles fare better in crashes than smaller vehicles," he added.

"Vehicle downsizing in the 1970s and 80s because of good intentions to save gas resulted in an additional 2,000 deaths per year and 20,000 injuries according to NHTSA studies. Forcing Connecticut drivers into smaller vehicles inherently compromises their safety," DeFore said.

SUVOA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the rights and serving the interests of 80 million SUV and light truck owners. For more information about SUVOA visit