WASHINGTON -- William B. Ruckelshaus, a soft-spoken lawyer from Indianapolis, faces no further obstacles today as he took over as head of the new Environmental Protection Agency.
Ruckelshaus, a former assistant attorney general and unsuccessful Republican senatorial candidate in 1968 from Indiana, was confirmed unanimously by the Senate Wednesday, only hours after he had completed two days of testimony on his plans for the EPA before the Senate Public Works Committee, which finally approved him.
He promised the committee EPA would pursue a vigorous enforcement policy and put pressure on the automobile industry to develop a low pollution engine.
In his testimony before the committee, the Hoosier said he fully supported a 1975 "target date for production of a low-pollution automobile warranted to be clean for 50,000 miles."
But he insisted that a Senate bill establishing a deadline, revocable only by Congress, was not realistic and again urged the Senate and House conferees to change the measure to permit it to be extended by the administration if the proper technology is not developed in time.
Under questioning by Sen. Edmund S. Muskie, D-Maine, Ruckelshaus agreed that Detroit should be required to warrant antipollution devices, as required in the Senate bill.
"A device that works today but doesn't work a week after it goes out of the dealer's show, room is useless," he said.
But he contended the warranty, initially, should be against only defects in the arfti-pollution device rather than a guarantee that the automobile will meet a set of low-emission performance standard for a cer-' tain number of miles. A performance guarantee, he contended, should be required later as the technology is refined and he said a 50,000-mile performance warranty by T 975 was a "good target date."
Ruckelshaus said he would be suspicious of any auto manufacturer who could not meet the 1975 deadline within reasonable limits. Ruckelshaus, who helped draw up antipollution legislation while a member of the Indiana Legislature, exhibited proficiency in answering questions about the new law that establishes the government as a watchdog in pollution control matters,
He said he would promise to submit a number of proposals to Congress following his confirmation.