California officials introduce initiative to bring down vehicle emissions

Living on Earth

In an effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollutants, California is looking to make automobiles more eco-friendly. 

Last December, the California Air Resources Board announced their Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) initiative, which mandates that by 2025, 15 percent of new cars sold in the state must have zero or near-zero emissions. According to their plan, a variety of vehicle-types will be made more efficient, and the change should lessen the cost of fuel consumption for those who drive the ZEV’s. However, the main objective of the plan is to protect the environment.

“What it does is requires the oil companies to reduce the carbon in their fuel that they sell by ten percent by 2020,” said Professor Daniel Sperling, a member of the California Air Resources Board. “And that, perhaps, doesn’t sound like a big number, but to get that ten percent, it means probably about a third of their fuel has to be shifted away from petroleum.

This shift away from petroleum should make way for increased development of alternative fuel sources.

“We’re not telling companies exactly what technology to use, but we’re expecting that, of those vehicles, probably about a third to a half would be hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. A third to a half would be battery electric vehicles, and the rest would be plug-in hybrid electric vehicles,” said Sperling.

While the initiative is based in California, it will affect vehicle emissions nationwide.

“When we say the California program, it’s really California and ten other states. Ten other states have agreed to adopt whatever California adopts,” Sperling said. “And so what we are launching here is a revolution.”

Those ten other states include Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maryland, New Mexico and Oregon.

According to Sperling, car companies recognize both the increasing cost in fuel and new vehicles — about $2,000 more in 2025 than 2012, according to the Board’s projections — as well as the environmental impact fossil fuels have, and will introduce new alternative energy technology nationwide.

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