While Washington was gripped by negotiations over the fiscal cliff, California got a welcome dose of good news. On December 27, the Environmental Protection Agency granted California a waiver to move forward with its Advanced Clean Cars program.
Currently, vehicles are responsible for roughly one-fifth of the nation’s smog-forming pollution, and are the second leading source of carbon pollution. According to the American Lung Association, 127 million people (41 percent of the U.S. population) live in areas where the air is not healthy to breathe. With pollution standards functionally equivalent to recently adopted national standards, California’s program will reduce smog-forming pollution from new vehicles roughly 75 percent by 2025 and significantly reduce carbon pollution, improving air quality and public health.
Importantly, the state’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standard will speed the adoption of battery electric and fuel cell vehicles. These standards are an essential part of California’s plans to meet its air pollution goals. Now, 13 states and the District of Columbia that have previously adopted some or all of California’s standards are updating their standards to match California’s.
As the vehicles featured in Green Car Journal can attest, these standards are feasible. Alongside cleaner conventional vehicles, more plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles are hitting the roads than ever before and consumers are enjoying the savings at the pump that come with more efficient vehicles. With its waiver in place, California’s Clean Car program will help ensure that our cars continue to get cleaner.
Jesse Prentice-Dunn is the Washington Representative for Sierra Club’s Green Transportation Campaign