California Air Resources Board Approves Major Expansion to Advanced Clean Car Rules

CARB rulesNASA recently released a startling 20-second time-lapse video showing how average global temperatures have changed each year from 1884 to 2011. Their findings show that the nine warmest years on record have been in the last 12 years. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director James E. Hansen states on their website that despite the “cooling effects of a strong La Niña influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record.”

These results further underline the need for the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) recent expansion of the Advanced Clean Car rules, which call for an additional 1.4 million zero- and near-zero-emission vehicles on the roads by 2025.

Historically, California’s laws have a ripple effect resulting in a greening across the nation. When California got the go-ahead from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2009 to allow the state to set it’s own greenhouse gas emissions standards for new motor vehicles, 13 states (Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) followed suit in implementing stricter standards.

The standards require that 15 percent of all new 2025 vehicles in California have zero emissions, meaning that they will most likely be electrical, hydrogen fuel cell, or plug-in electric.

This will drive the need for a sufficient amount of alternative fuel stations and charging stations. The
more the technology is used and the infrastructure for such vehicles is expanded and readily available, the more likely it is that this will lead to more and more commercial vehicles switching over either voluntarily through a decrease in price or by a mandate through federal or state laws.

California already has plans to expand hydrogen fueling stations between 2015-2020 in anticipation of the additional 50,000 vehicles. For plug-in vehicles, they have plans to expand the infrastructure to encompass convenient home charging stations including low-income and multi-family households, and expanded access to charging at work.

During an informational hearing to the California Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, CARB Chairman Mary Nicholas stated that California’s goal is to reduce gas emissions to less than 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. That will not be done through passenger cars alone. She went on to say that low carbon biofuels have a key role to play for heavy-duty and off-road applications.

This combined with the first-ever standards put into place nationally last August for heavy-duty trucks will make for some interesting developments over the next several years.

The EPA’s new program set fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for three different types of medium- and heavy-duty trucks beginning in 2014:

1—Combination tractors, such as big rigs and semi trucks, are required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2018.

2—Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans are required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2018.

3—Vocational vehicles, such as delivery trucks, garbage trucks, and buses, are required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2018.

The EPA, “estimates the standards will improve air quality by reducing particulate matter and ozone, resulting in societal benefits ranging from about $1.3 billion to $4.2 billion in 2030.” They also estimate that vehicle owners and operators will save approximately $50 billion in fuel costs.

Our industry is already environmentally conscience. Many manufacturers offer vehicles that operate on alternative fuel, have made efforts to reduce fuel consumption and develop vehicles that reduce environmental pollution with recovery elements. Some manufacturers have specific divisions to develop environmentally-friendly solutions.

These rules by CARB and the EPA are a huge leap forward in improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. It will be fun to watch
what the next few years will bring.

For more information on the EPA’s Heavy Duty National Program, go to http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations.htm.

To see NASA’s video, go to http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2011-temps.html

Story by Jennifer Taylor

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