29 September 2004

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has voted last week 8 to 0 to approve the regulation that limits greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from passenger cars and light trucks beginning in 2009. The rule was developed under the California Bill AB 1493, adopted in 2002, with first proposal released in June 2004 and modified in August.

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The standards will phase in from 2009 to 2016. The average reduction of greenhouse gases from new California cars and light trucks will be about 22% in 2012 and about 30% in 2016, compared to today’s vehicles.

Costs for the added technology needed to meet the rule are expected to average about $325 per vehicle in 2012 and about $1050 per vehicle to comply in 2016. According to the ARB, these increased costs will be more than offset by lowered operating expenses (better fuel economy), resulting in savings for vehicle buyers over the vehicle lifetime. The automotive industry disagreed with the ARB cost figures, claiming that the added cost will be much higher, and would never be offset by fuel savings.

The rule is expected to be challenged in court by the automotive industry and, possibly, by the federal government on the grounds that it is not an emission standard, but a fuel economy regulation subject to federal jurisdiction.

The adoption of this rule makes California the only state that has regulated climate change emissions from motor vehicles. According to the ARB, seven other states consider adopting the regulation, including New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine, as well as the nation of Canada. California currently represents about 20% of the US car market. If all of the above states and Canada adopted the rule, the number of cars required to meet the CO2 standards would triple.

Source: California ARB