Next Week's Vote on California's Clean Car Standards: What it Means for the State

At a time when consumers and businesses are being held hostage to oil rising to over $100 a barrel, our oil dependency is once again threatening our economic recovery. It would seem like we have little control in all of this as we are impacted by threats by Iran to disrupt oil shipments, by Nigerian strikes, and by the growing appetite for oil in Asia. Well, think again.

 Next week, California will be changing this equation in a dramatic way, by:

 1.       Cutting carbon pollution and oil consumption nearly in half. As part of the National Agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the State of California and 13 automakers, the California Air Resources Board will be taking the next steps in its part of the agreement by proposing carbon pollution standards that will halve harmful emissions from new cars and trucks sold in 2025 versus today. The National Agreement will also cut gasoline consumption from new vehicles in 2025 by nearly half.

 Yes, that’s right. What this means for us is half the carbon pollution and half the gasoline used from new cars and trucks sold in 2025 versus today’s new vehicle. That’s half the amount of money we’re shelling out on gasoline. Half the amount of money we’re sending overseas to import oil versus our new vehicle’s today. Score one for the economy.

 2.       Spurring the market to provide more choices to drive emissions and oil free. California is also setting the next round of Zero Emission Standards for model years 2018 through 2025. If the Board votes in favor of an even stronger standard than proposed, absent any loopholes for automakers, the state can stand to gain nearly two million electric-drive cars and trucks (link to factsheet). Other states that have adopted California’s clean car standards would bring the tally to five million electric-drive nationally. All told, one in six cars on showroom floors by 2025 will have the capability to plug-in and run partly or wholly emission and oil free – meaning more vehicle choices and refueling alternatives for families. Score two.

Looking further down the road, the proposed standard puts California on a path so that by 2050, 87% of passenger cars on the road will be powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. With 90% of Californians still living in areas with unhealthy air moving to a zero-emitting fleet over the long term will be critical.

ZEV roadmap.png

 Source: California Air Resources Board

 3.       Creating jobs for California and the economy.The changes also promises benefits for California’s emerging clean vehicles industry. Last year California attracted 60% of the global venture capital investment ($840 million) in electric vehicle companies. Strong California standards will help grow the market in advanced, clean vehicle technologies, attracting much needed companies and jobs to the state. Score another one for the economy.

 4.       Returning $4000 back to us. Over the lifetime of their new vehicles, drivers will realize $4,000 in net savings under the proposed changes, even taking into account any increase in the cost for new vehicles. Those financing their new or used vehicles (the vast majority of us) will see their fuel savings outweigh any increased monthly finance payment from day one. That means more money in our pockets and less money sent to Big Oil, OPEC, and other oil production countries. That’s a win for California.

By adopting strong clean car standards, California is moving to protect our health, save us money at the pump, and help create thousands of new jobs. In so doing, the state will also be ensuring that our public health and economic recovery aren’t held hostage to oil dependency.  And that’s a marvelous gift from the state that’ll keep on giving.

About the Authors

Simon Mui

Director, California Vehicles and Fuels, Energy & Transportation program

Join Us