The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given local governments until the end of the year to join the compact, defined as "an agreement or covenant between two or more parties." But it has not given leaders any details about what guidelines they need to follow.
Commissioners approved the plan because federal transportation money could be withheld if the Triangle area does not meet tougher ozone regulations by the year 2004.
"It's confusing sometimes, " said Wake County commissioner Herb Council. "But I believe it's the right thing to do, and I believe long-term, we'll look back and say that was a good decision."
By joining the clean air compact, Wake County gets three extra years to meet ozone requirements. Raleigh leaders have not signed on, and it is unclear whether that could jeoparize the compact.
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