CARB Votes to Maintain Emissions Standards, ZEV Programs

Re-affirming its commitment to clean air, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has unanimously voted to continue the vehicle greenhouse-gas emission standards and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program for cars and light trucks sold in California through 2025.

According to CARB, this action ensures that California and 12 other states that follow its vehicle regulations, together accounting for one-third of the U.S. auto market, will move forward greenhouse-gas emission standards adopted in the 2012 process involving the federal government, California and the automakers.

The board also voted to support the expansion of the ZEV vehicle marketplace before 2025, calling for redoubling current efforts under way to support market growth and paving the way for new regulations to rapidly increase the number of ZEVs required to be sold in California after 2025.

“Today, ARB affirmed the technical reviews done by our own and EPA staff, as well as the work of independent analysts,” says CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “We invite the global industry to bring us their best cars and trucks and take advantage of the willingness of our leaders to provide a broad range of incentives to help make these vehicles affordable. And we also invite them to come sit down with us if they have specific concerns about implementation of the existing regulations that can be addressed without weakening the impact overall.

“The program is delivering cleaner cars that save consumers money and are fun to drive: That’s how we do it in California,” she affirms.

The CARB vote was supported by representatives from the 12 states that have adopted California’s standards. Those states together have a population of 113 million and constitute roughly 30% of the nation’s new car sales. Senior environmental officials from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon testified at the hearing to urge the board’s approval.

According to CARB, this action affirmed the comprehensive, multiyear staff assessment and analysis that concluded that the standards for model years 2022-2025 are appropriate and feasible. The staff assessment found that the technology to achieve them not only is currently available, but also has exceeded the original expectations – both for level of development and cost – when the standards were adopted with automaker support in 2012.

The board’s vote reached the same conclusion as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its final determination in January on the federal greenhouse-gas emission standards for model years 2022-25.

Last week, however, the Trump administration rescinded that decision at the request of automakers and announced that it intends to reconsider the final determination in coordination with the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency, which is responsible for setting the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon criticized the move by the Trump administration.

The board’s decision to stay the course on standards to cut greenhouse gases and smog-forming emissions was based upon the findings of a comprehensive, 637-page staff report that included an analysis of the Technical Assessment Report developed by California and the federal agencies, which was released last July. The CARB staff report also includes the first comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the ZEV market in California, including valuable new consumer research to assess the benefits and use profiles of ZEVs now operating in California.

Based on these findings, CARB also voted to pursue policies to support more than 4 million ZEVs in California by 2030 and established a goal to continue reducing average fleet-wide greenhouse-gas emissions from new vehicles by 4% to 5% per year between 2025 and 2030.

“With the midterm review now in the rearview mirror, we look forward to accelerating our efforts to develop the next set of California vehicle standards,” says CARB Deputy Executive Officer Alberto Ayala. “California is also moving forward to accelerate deployment of fuel cell and battery electric cars. That will put us on track to meeting our clean air and climate goals for 2030 and also align California with current advanced vehicle technology research and investment in the global auto marketplace.”

California, with nearly half of all ZEVs in the nation, has several programs in place to further support the growing electric car marketplace. The state offers rebates to new buyers or lessees of ZEVs and is rapidly scaling the infrastructure for charging electric cards and fueling hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and agencies are pursuing nearly 200 actions to support the market, as identified in the governor’s 2016 ZEV Action Plan.

The board expressed its commitment to support the ZEV marketplace by continuing complementary programs such as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and redoubling efforts on continued state incentives, utility infrastructure programs, and expanded public education programs, such as the newly established initiative through Veloz, formerly the California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative.

CARB’s announcement includes statements of support from Connecticut and Massachusetts.

According to Commissioner Rob Klee, of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, “Connecticut and the other states who have adopted California’s greenhouse-gas standards have done so because motor vehicles are a major contributor to our GHG emissions, and reductions from the California standards are key to meeting our climate goals. We applaud the effort that went into ARB’s comprehensive review, and we will continue to implement these standards while also strongly supporting ZEV market development through innovative rebate programs like the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate program.

“It must also be noted that analyses by both EPA and ARB demonstrate these standards are achievable at lower costs than originally projected, so the federal government should keep its promise to the states, the automakers and, most importantly, the American people who will benefit from the electrification of our transportation systems by breathing cleaner air and paying less at the pump,” he adds.

Martin Suuberg, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, states, “Since 1990, the commonwealth has implemented the California vehicle emission standards for automobiles as a critical means for Massachusetts to meet greenhouse-gas and emissions reduction goals under the Global Warming Solutions Act, and the standards have provided tremendous public health benefits in the Northeast region over the years. Through the zero-emission vehicle standards approved by the California Air Resources Board, the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act and similar requirements in neighboring states, our region continues to ensure the protection of environmental resources and emissions reductions in a coordinated effort to further reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.”

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