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California Drives Forward to Adopt Landmark Clean Car Standards

Simon Mui

Posted January 27, 2012 in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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Just moments ago, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) voted unanimously (9-0) to move forward with its landmark clean car standards. When the rule is fully implemented by 2025, new cars will emit 75% less smog pollution, 50% less carbon pollution, and will sip only half the amount of gasoline versus today’s new cars. The vote will result in a dramatic improvement in consumer’s choices of cleaner vehicles, including ones that can run completely oil-free.

ARB also voted to dramatically strengthen its Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program, which will result in 1.4 million electric-drive vehicles on the road by 2025. While we do appreciate the Board's efforts to limit the impacts of a special carve-out for some manufacturers to reduce their ZEV requirements (the ZEV/GHG overcompliance provision), we will continue to work with ARB to significantly limit impacts of this provision. All told, by 2025 consumers will have greater choices of cleaner vehicles, with nearly one in six new vehicles having the option to be plug-in capable.  

ARB’s decision is a victory for California residents, where 90% of the public still live in areas of unhealthy air. It is also a victory for consumers who will save $4,000 over the lifetime of vehicles in fuel costs. The standards will also attract further investments to the state and generate 40,000 new jobs. Already, the state has become the countries electric vehicle technology hub, attrracting 60% of the global venture capital in this space.

A broad array of interests – from California EV manufacturers like Tesla and Coda to consumer groups, labor, businesses, local government, faith-based groups, public health, and environmental groups – all came together to support a strong clean cars standard. The Board also recognized that many automakers supported the goals of the zero emission vehicle program at the hearing, a far different situation than in the past. With all major automakers already launching or planning to offer in total 30 to 40 plug-in electric vehicle models, these standards will help scale-up and pull forward technologies already available today.

The Board’s vote demonstrates its commitment to making gasoline vehicles significantly cleaner. California’s history of leadership to set strong standards has been repeated today. Today’s vote also reaffirmed California’s commitment to continue to collaborate and coordinate with EPA, NHTSA, automakers, and other stakeholders. By raising the bar once again, the Board’s vote will give further momentum and support for efforts across the country – and the world -  to speed the transition to cleaner cars.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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