California regulators roll out CO2 plan for automobiles

by William Yeatman on June 22, 2004

in Politics

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) on June 14 released its draft plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the states automobiles.  It calls for lowering auto emissions by 30 percent below 2002 levels by 2014.  The plan immediately generated significant objections to its cost and constitutionality.

CARB had been charged by a law passed in 2002 with achieving the maximum feasible and cost-effective reduction of emissions beginning in 2006, with all new vehicles meeting the rules by 2009.  The proposals would create two vehicle classes:  one consisting of light trucks and passenger vehicles, the other of heavier trucks.  The 30 percent reduction in GHG emissions would be achieved in two phases, one from 2009-2011, the other from 2012-2014.  Manufacturers would gain credit for producing low emissions vehicles before 2008.

CARB estimates that the regulations will reduce CO2 emissions in the state by 85,900 tons per day in 2020 and by 143,300 tons per day in 2030.  The board admits that the new law will raise the price of a vehicle by $328 in 2009 and by over $1000 in 2015.

Manufacturers point out that car buyers regularly put fuel economy down their list of priorities.  Eron Shosteck of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers told the New York Times (June 11), Its still behind cup holders.   Others have pointed out that CARBs assumptions both on costs and on fuel economy are purely theoretical.

The move also faces legal challenges.  According to Greenwire (June 15), Both industry officials and the Bush administration have indicated for months they may sue on the grounds that California is seeking to regulate fuel economy, a responsibility reserved for the federal government. But California‘s new governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), vowed during his gubernatorial campaign to defend A.B. 1493 against legal challenges.

Several States have adopted Californias plans for reducing fuel use.  Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont have all passed legislation to follow California‘s lead.  CARB will accept public comments until July 7 before reporting to Gov. Schwarzenegger before 2005.

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