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Air Quality

Air Resoure Board Sets Greenhouse Standards. Vote on Diesel Later Today.

9:55 AM PST on December 12, 2008


Yesterday, the California Air Resource Board voted to adopt what are being hailed as the "nation's first comprehensive plan to slash greenhouse gases" despite protests from businesses and car dealerships that contend the new standards will be bad for business.

While the new regulations aim to cut emissions in all sectors of the economy, almost one-third of the recuctions are expected to come from the automobile industry.  The Green Car Congress explains what impact the vote will have:

The Scoping Plan requires the largest sectorial chunk of reductions to come from transportation, outlining projected 62.3 MMTCO2e (37%) in reductions through a variety of measures.

The key transportation instrument is the Pavley standards, followedby the Low-Carbon Fuel Standard. In the final plan, however, ARB hasincreased its estimate of reductions in regional transportationgreenhouse gases achieved through land-use changes and transit policiesdesigned to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT); this is prior tosetting the targets required by the newly enacted SB 375 (anti-sprawlbill).

ARB is also evaluating the use of feebates as a measure to achieveadditional reductions, either as a backstop to the Pavley regulation ifthe regulation cannot be implemented, or as a supplement to Pavley ifthe waiver is approved and the regulation takes effect.

But the CARB isn't done yet.  Later today they're expected to vote on new rules requiring all trucks using California roads, whether they're based in California or not, to switch to low-emission vehicles or retro-fit they're current trucks with carbon filters by 2012.  By 2020, all trucks will need to have certain high-efficiency engines.  The move will cost an estimated $5.5 billion to implement, and the state has set aside $1 billion to ease the burden on truckers.

That hasn't stopped some in the industry from bringing some histrionics to a debate over whether California is serious about cleaning up it's terrible air quality.

While Northgate has purchased a new truck in its nine-vehiclefleet that serves Pacific Pride and Shell gas stations, it was anexpensive transaction.

"And you might as well drive the old truck off a cliff. You won't be able to sell it." 

Nevertheless, the potential benefits of the new rules are staggering.  The California Air Resources
Board estimates that over the next 15 years the rule will prevent 9,400
premature deaths, result in 150,000 fewer asthma cases and save up to
$68 billion in public heath care costs.

I'll post an update when the vote is finalized.

Photo: Wired

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