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Clean Air Act Overview

1990 Clean Air Act Amendment Summary: Title II

Provisions Relating to Mobile Sources

While motor vehicles built today emit fewer pollutants (60% to 80% less, depending on the pollutant) than those built in the 1960s, cars and trucks still account for almost half the emissions of the ozone precursors VOCs and NOx, and up to 90% of the CO emissions in urban areas. The principal reason for this problem is the rapid growth in the number of vehicles on the roadways and the total miles driven. This growth has offset a large portion of the emission reductions gained from motor vehicle controls.

In view of the unforeseen growth in automobile emissions in urban areas combined with the serious air pollution problems in many urban areas, the Congress has made significant changes to the motor vehicle provisions on the 1977 Clean Air Act.

The Clean Air Act of 1990 establishes tighter pollution standards for emissions from automobiles and trucks. These standards will reduce tailpipe emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides on a phased-in basis beginning in model year 1994. Automobile manufacturers will also be required to reduce vehicle emissions resulting from the evaporation of gasoline during refueling.

Fuel quality will also be controlled. Scheduled reductions in gasoline volatility and sulfur content of diesel fuel, for example, will be required. New programs requiring cleaner (so-called "reformulated" gasoline) will be initiated in 1995 for the nine cities with the worst ozone problems. Other cities can "opt in" to the reformulated gasoline program. Higher levels (2.7%) of alcohol-based oxygenated fuels will be produced and sold in 41 areas during the winter months that exceed the federal standard for carbon monoxide.

The new law also establishes a clean fuel car pilot program in California, requiring the phase-in of tighter emission limits for 150,000 vehicles in model year 1996 and 300,000 by the model year 1999. These standards can be met with any combination of vehicle technology and cleaner fuels. The standards become even stricter in 2001. Other states can "opt in" to this program, though only through incentives, not sales or production mandates.

Further, twenty-six of the dirtiest areas of the country will have to adopt a program limiting emissions from centrally-fueled fleets of 10 or more vehicles beginning as early as 1998.

Full text, Title II - Emission Standards for Moving Sources

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