The car-obsessed culture in California has driven (ha ha!) agencies to address the issues of climate change and air quality in more frequent, increasingly stringent and multi-faceted ways. In the latest round of regulation aimed at tackling these ever-present issues, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has announced a package of proposed new rules which it hopes will deliver cleaner air, slash greenhouse gases (GHGs) and rapidly increase numbers of zero-emissions vehicles. The comprehensive Advanced Clean Car program has been in the works for three years and unites the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the emission of smog-producing pollutants into one single group of rules for cars and light trucks from 2015 through 2025.
The proposed package is comprised of the following four regulations:
• GHG Standard for Cars and Light Trucks Model Years 2017-2025: This rule reduces GHG emissions to 166 grams per mile. This represents a 47% reduction from current levels. California has worked with EPA to build on and strengthen its earlier GHG standard such that it parallels the new national GHG/fuel economy standards rule that CARB has now deemed sufficiently stringent.
• Reduction of the Emission of Smog-Causing Pollutants: In order to meet tighter federal air quality standards expected in the next few years, California, the state with the nation’s worst air quality, will need to reduce smog-causing emissions by an additional 75% from 2016 levels. This rule is intended to induce development of cleaner diesel, gasoline and gas-electric hybrid vehicles.
• Zero Emission Vehicle Rule: Striving to achieve an 80% reduction of GHG emissions by the year 2050, this rule requires 1.4 million zero-emission vehicles to be sold by 2025. This rule builds on a California program already in place that is meant to increase production of these vehicles.
• Clean Fuel Outlets: This rule will require construction of hydrogen fueling stations across the state. It is intended to address the “pending commercialization of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.” Construction of such stations will start in the most polluted major air basins.
The regulations are intended to deliver on the following goals:
• 1.4 million zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road in California by 2025
• A 47% reduction of GHG emissions by 2025
• A 75% reduction in smog-causing emissions by 2025
• A reduction of 40 million tons of GHGs in 2025 – this is the equivalent of removing 8 million cars from the road
• One in seven new cars sold in California in 2025 be a zero-emission or plug-in hybrid vehicle – representing a projected 15.4% of car sales
• California drivers obtaining a savings of $5 billion in operating costs in 2025
In a statement, CARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols stated that the package of regulations “assures the development of environmentally superior cars that will continue to deliver the performance, utility, and safety vehicle owners have come to expect.” Stay tuned for more from CARB on the Advanced Clean Car program to be released in December.