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California Emissions Standards

Busy week for California. First the state suddenly allows Hybrids (45 mpg +) in the carpool lane, and then, its controversial greenhouse gas regulations are gaining traction in Oregon and Washington (AP Reports via Globe and Mail).

In many ways this regulation is good and needed. Without some kind of breakthrough technology, the only way to curtail carbon emissions from a car is to increase its fuel efficiency, which is essentially what this law will do…by 2016. The fact that California is essentially mandating fuel economy (typically the domain of the federal government), is leading to a lawsuit from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (see canned Press Release with uber-intelligent and obligatory “Indeed, plant life needs carbon dioxide to live.” quote. Please.)

So what does this spat mean for everyday folks? Well, don’t hold your breath for success on this one. 2016 is a full 11 years and several lawsuits away. In the meantime, hundreds of projects that reduce CO2 emissions in California, and have other technological and social benefits will go unfunded (except those graciously supported by TerraPass members).

Instead, we’re going to focus on implementing change in ten years, with technologies like hybrid drivetrains. Don’t get us wrong, we think hybrids are cool, but at an extra $3K per vehicle, thats about $200/ton of carbon saved! Carbon is trading on the CCX for $2/ton. Wind is under $10 a ton. Why policy makers focus on the bottom part of the supply curve for carbon is beyond me.

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