California has approved new vehicle emission standards, which require that 15.4 percent of all new cars sold in the state by 2025 emit little or no tailpipe and carbon exhaust. Close to 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions come from vehicles. The new rules aim to stimulate the production of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), which include cars that run on electric batteries and fuel cells. The measures are expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent and smog and soot pollutants by 75 percent.
California has led the country in setting their vehicle emission standards, which are more stringent than those set by the federal government. The new regulations will have a significant effect on the country, as ten other states, including New York and New Jersey, plan to adopt the same standards. However, a clause in the rules, which allows automakers to manufacture fewer ZEVs if their fleet average exceeds greenhouse gas emission standards, has been called a loophole.
A trade group of auto dealers strongly opposed the new regulations worried they would increase the cost of vehicles for consumers and stifle the industry’s growth. They also claim that new infrastructure, such as electric charging points and hydrogen delivery stations, is not available but is needed for ZEVs to be widely accepted. The state of Arizona has chosen to give up its adherence to the stricter California standards and has reverted to the national standards issued by the U.S. EPA.
Despite these objections, the move has been met with general support. A consortium of car manufacturers including Ford, Chrysler, GM, and Nissan has been supportive of the new standards. “This is a very powerful and history-making moment in which California is pushing the U.S. and the world toward pollution-free cars,” says Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund.