EPA Comes Clean
In that business, the lab has unquestionably succeeded. "We've removed lead from gasoline, so kids are smarter," says Chris Grundler, director of the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality since 1995. "We've removed sulfur from diesel fuel. Automobiles are 98 percent cleaner now than when we started." They aim to get to "practically 100 percent" in ten years, and they're now working on standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks plus oceangoing vessels.
The lab also developed an important sideline in rating cars' fuel efficiency. They tell manufacturers how to test new cars' mileage--and also do their own tests to make sure the manufacturers' numbers are accurate.
That sideline recently put the north-side laboratory in a global spotlight. In the 2013 model year, Hyundai-Kia claimed that five of its models would deliver forty mpg on the highway, while Ford said its new C-Max hybrid would get forty-seven mpg overall--but drivers couldn't duplicate those results in the real world.