MASS. HOUSE BACKS EMISSIONS BILL, SUPPORTS CUT IN FOSSIL FUEL USE

MASS. HOUSE BACKS EMISSIONS BILL, SUPPORTS CUT IN FOSSIL FUEL USE

The Massachusetts House gave strong support to two clean air bills that would adopt California auto emissions standards for new cars and discourage the burning of fossil fuels in an effort to combat the greenhouse effect.

The auto emissions measure, advanced on an initial vote Tuesday by a 144-2 margin, would require new cars sold in the state to meet the toughest clean air standards allowed by federal law starting with the 1993 model year, according to sponsor Rep. David B. Cohen, D-Newton.A similar bill was passed by the House last year but died when the Senate withheld final action.

Rep. Cohen countered auto industry charges that the measure would raise both the cost of cars and their fuel consumption, saying, "Basically not very much and not very much."

Auto industry groups have argued that separate models for individual states substantially increase production costs.

"When I hear it from a consumer, I'll be concerned. When I hear it from auto manufacturers, I think it's disingenuous," Rep. Cohen said.

The House also gave initial approval on a voice vote to a "greenhouse effect" bill sponsored by Rep. Lawrence R. Alexander, D-Marblehead, seeking to reduce use of fossil fuels through the adoption of 10 energy-efficien cy programs.

A similar measure also passed the House last year but expired when the Senate failed to take it up.

The bill, backed by New England Electric System and Boston Edison Co., would establish a "revenue stream" to pay bonuses to developers of large energy-efficient buildings by charging fees for less-efficient buildings, according to Michael Ernst, research director of the legislature's joint energy committee.

The bill calls for new homes to carry energy ratings similar to those for appliances and would require energy-efficient lighting in state buildings by 1992.

The measure also would impose gasoline-guzzler penalties on new cars, starting with the 1992 model year, through adjustments in the state sales tax.

More fuel-efficient cars within each weight class would be charged a lower tax, offset by higher taxes for less-efficient cars, Mr. Ernst said.

Mindy Lubber, press secretary to Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, said Wednesday that the governor supports both bills.