21 May 2008

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) issued a technical study that compares the California greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards (so called Pavley regulations) with the recently proposed federal fuel economy standards by 2020. The study concludes that California’s clean cars law achieves 41% greater total nationwide GHG emission reductions compared to the federal proposal. In 2020, California’s regulations would result in the equivalent of removing an additional 14 million cars compared to the federal standards.

The ARB study is based on a comparison of GHG reductions from cars and trucks under the California standards and under the schedule for CAFE fuel economy standards proposed for 2011 through 2015 by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The ARB study concludes that:

  • By 2016, California regulations will have prevented a total of 55 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 from being emitted into the air in California as compared to 36 MMT under the proposed federal fuel economy standards—50% more and a difference of 20 MMT.
  • By 2020, California’s rules will have prevented a total of 158 MMT of CO2 from being emitted in California as compared to 106 MMT of CO2 under federal regulations—almost 50% more.
  • If the Pavley rules are implemented in all 50 states, by 2020 a cumulative total of 1283 MMT of CO2 will have been prevented from being emitted into the air compared to 912 MMT if only the proposed federal fuel economy standards were implemented—a difference of 41%.
  • If the Pavley rules are implemented in Canada, by 2020 a cumulative total of 87 MMT of CO2 will have been prevented from being emitted as compared to 58 MMT of CO2 if only the proposed federal regulations were implemented.

Twenty other states with close to half of all the registered vehicles in the United States have either formally adopted the California regulations or are in the process of doing so. These states, as well as California, are prevented from enforcing the GHG standards because the US Environmental Protection Agency has refused to grant California a waiver for the regulation. California along with other states have taken the federal government to court to overturn the denial of the waiver.

The proposed NHTSA fuel economy standards also included language which attempts to prevent California from ever enforcing standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars, said the ARB. This prompted a letter from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the governors of eleven other states expressing their opposition to the Secretary of Transportation.

Source: California ARB