Critical legislation that supports California's alternative fuel vehicle, advanced transportation and clean air initiatives has passed in both chambers of the California Legislature, positioning the bill for consideration by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Central to AB 8 is an extension of the state's clean transportation incentive programs through 2023. Funding in excess of $2 billion – paid for by specific fees and not money from the state's general fund – accompanies the legislation.
‘The bill shows that California is really serious about the transportation sector,’ John Boesel, president and CEO of CALSTART, tells NGT News. ‘The beauty is that it supports a wide array of fuels and technologies. It doesn't pick any single winner.’
The legislation, which cleared its last hurdle on the way to the governor's desk with a two-thirds majority passage from the Assembly on Tuesday, brings together a few different programs that Boesel says have had a ‘tremendous impact’ on California's air quality and burgeoning alternative fuels sector.
For example, AB 8 includes an extension of AB 118, which was originally signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007 and comprises three programs: the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), the Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), and the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program (EFMP).
Over the past several years, these three programs have helped put thousands of alt-fuel vehicles onto California roads, as well as supported various refueling infrastructure projects – natural gas, biofuels, hydrogen and others. Like the ARFVTP, AQIP's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) and Hybrid and Zero Emissions Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Program have been key mechanisms for driving alternative fuels in transportation applications.
Other initiatives that fall under AB 8 are the Carl Moyer and AB 923 programs, which are aimed squarely at reducing diesel emissions. In short, the measures contained in the Moyer/AB 923 programs provide incentives for fleets to retire old, dirty diesels and replace them with new, advanced – and vastly cleaner – technologies.
Although almost 50,000 engines have been replaced or retrofitted through Moyer/AB 923 in the last 15 years, ‘There's more work to be done there,’ Boesel says.
The governor has 30 days to act on AB 8, one way or another. The prospects for the legislation gaining Brown's signature are good.
‘Based on statements made by his staff, we're optimistic,’ Boesel notes. He and CALSTART have worked with state lawmakers on AB 8 over the past year, and legislators have sent ‘positive signals’ throughout the process.