On the Road to a National GHG Auto Standard

Craig Miller

Photo: Craig Miller

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced Thursday that the state has fulfilled its part of the May 2009 agreement set between auto manufacturers and two federal agencies that will establish the nation’s first greenhouse gas emissions standard for cars.

The new regulation adopted Thursday contains what CARB spokesman Stanley Young called “largely technical fixes,” including a change that will allow cars that meet the federal standard in the years 2012 to 2016 to be counted as compliant with the stricter California standard.  (The federal standard goes into effect in 2012.  It differs from the California standard until the two reach the same levels in 2016.)

The California law mandating rules to cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars, AB 1493, was passed in 2002.  Between 2005 and 2009, the state fought for an EPA waiver that would allow it to implement a standard tougher than existing federal rules. Last May, President Obama announced a national standard for tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases  modeled on California’s rules.  In June, the U.S. EPA  granted the waiver the state had long sought.  See the CARB website for a history of the struggles over the regulations.

CARB says that national implementation of the standard will cut 941 million tons of CO2 by 2020, compared to 793 million tons had the standard been limited to California and the thirteen states that had adopted California’s rules.

AB 1493 would not be affected by a suspension of AB 32, an issue Californians may be voting on soon.