2 July 2002

After months of political battles, the California State Assembly passed a bill to control greenhouse gas emissions from cars and other light-duty vehicles. Assembly Bill 1493 still requires the signature of California Governor Gray Davis to become a law.

The Bill would require the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to develop and adopt, by 1 January 2005, regulations that “achieve the maximum feasible reduction of greenhouse gases emitted by passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks and any other vehicles (...) whose primary use is noncommercial personal transportation in the state.” The regulations would apply to vehicles manufactured in the model year 2009 and later, thus giving the manufacturers four years to develop compliant vehicles.

Passing of the Bill, supported by a coalition led by Bluewater Network, was a victory for environmentalists and a defeat for automakers. The Bill is the first legislation in US history to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light-duty trucks. Carbon dioxide control would require more fuel efficient vehicles, thus making large sport utility vehicles (SUV), minivans, and light trucks, which account for nearly 50% of personal transportation vehicles sold in California, the primary target of the regulation. If the Bill is signed into law, the automakers are likely to challenge it in court.

After the first version of the Bill, known as Bill AB 1058, was stalled, the California Senate re-wrote it as the Bill 1493, which passed by a 41-30 vote in the State Assembly. The rewritten Bill includes a number of explicit limitations on the actions that may be taken by the ARB in implementing the law. In particular, the ARB is not allowed to (1) impose additional fees and taxes on motor vehicles, fuels, or vehicle miles traveled, (2) to ban the sale of SUVs, light-duty trucks, or other vehicle categories, (3) to impose vehicle weight restrictions, (4) to introduce speed limits, and (5) to limit vehicle miles traveled.

California is the only US state which has the right to formulate its own air quality regulations. Other states may choose to either comply with the federal laws or to adopt California regulations.

Download Bill AB 1493
Bluewater Press Release
Automakers oppose the bill

Source: California State Assembly