The situation in Washington continues to be difficult for our industry. Public support for clean technologies faces an uphill battle as Congress and the “super committee” look for billions of dollars in deficit savings. On the heels of the Solyndra collapse, some are questioning other support programs, including DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Loan Program
that has supported companies such as Tesla and Fisker.
Funding for transportation infrastructure has been in the news recently as a Federal Transportation Bill passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
in early November. This two-year bill would keep federal funding at current levels, while reducing the overall number of programs. The bill has an uncertain path forward, however, and no one is certain what sort of bill will ultimately pass in an election year.
After months of study and negotiation, EPA and NHTSA proposed new light-duty vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for MY 2017-2025 this week. The goal is to improve the emissions and efficiency of new vehicles over time, resulting in a fleet-wide average of 54.5 MPG for new vehicles in 2025. The rules are much more complicated than this single number might suggest. One notable component of the rule is a credit multiplier that provides a subsidy for electric vehicles. More information can be found in the official fact sheet, with full details and formal documents available on the EPA website (http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations.htm#1-1). There will be time for public comment and the standards should be finalized by summer.
Despite the formal announcement, official timeline, and automaker support, the fight over these standards is far from over. California Congressman Darrell Issa is challenging the standards on procedural grounds, and a broader group of Republicans are mounting opposition to the standards
as well. With the debate ratcheting up and an election looming, 2012 promises to be an interesting year. California Policy
The situation in California is similarly hectic. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is expected to formally announce its proposed MY 2017-2025 emissions standards in early December. These standards, which will be harmonized with the federal program, will be taken up at CARB’s January board meeting.
CARB is also set to expand advanced technology vehicle mandates through updates to the state’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program. CARB is also updating the Clean Fuels Outlet regulation to ensure that refueling infrastructure for ZEVs (particularly fuel cell vehicles) keeps up with vehicle sales. Official plans have not been released, but the idea is to require the oil industry to pay for any infrastructure shortfall, based on vehicle sales and projected infrastructure needs. Not surprisingly, this idea has met some resistance and stakeholders are currently discussing voluntary alternatives, even as CARB moves ahead with the regulatory process.
On the fuel side, California is moving forward with two high profile programs that do not require near term compliance, but are driving changes in the transportation sector. The first is the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), which calls for a reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels over the next 10 years. CARB will take up amendments to the LCFS in its December board meeting, and fuel providers will have to comply beginning in 2013. Additionally, CARB adopted an economy-wide cap and trade program for carbon emissions
in October. Transportation fuels are not included in this program until 2015, but discussions around how this program will affect the transportation sector are expected to heat up soon.
Public investment in clean transportation is needed to ensure the success of the programs outlined above. AB 118, Carl Moyer and other programs are currently providing much-needed funding for this sector, but most are set to expire by 2016. CALSTART is working with stakeholders to ensure ongoing public investment in this sector.