cleaner transportation and alternative fuels

Gasoline and diesel transportation fuels represent a major share of America’s most pernicious air pollution, water-borne toxins, and climate emissions. While we presently have better technological choices for cleaner electricity production than for transportation fuels, there is still significant progress available from more fuel-efficient vehicles, hybrid technologies, and alternate fuels. There is also much future promise in hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle technologies. CEERT has been working to clean up CO2 from cars and trucks, promote smarter transportation and development planning, and help develop an alternate fuel-distribution infrastructure as near-term means to reduce the impacts of fossil-fueled transportation.

Recent Developments:

Advanced Clean Cars Program

CEERT continues to work with other NGOs to defend the 2022 – 2025 federal passenger vehicle emissions standards, known in California as the Advanced Clean Cars regulations. (The state has also set California-only Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) sales targets through model years (MY) 2022 – 2025).

The US-EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) still have not issued their joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) (now titled the Safer and Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule) on how they plan to revise the 2021 – 2025 vehicle emissions standards. The public release of the NPRM is anticipated any day now, and indications are that the two agencies will recommend freezing the emissions targets at 2020 levels, and will also consider a proposal to revoke California’s authority both to regulate vehicle emissions and to require auto manufacturers to deliver ZEVs to California. The effect of the SAFE Vehicle Rule will be to increase the nation’s oil consumption by hundreds of thousands of barrels per day and its climate emissions by millions of tons per day.

In response to a July 2017 lawsuit jointly filed by California, other states, and several NGOs, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against NHTSA’s continuing attempt to indefinitely delay the updating of penalties levied against automakers for violating fuel economy standards. The ruling upholds an earlier 2016 NHTSA determination during the Obama administration that mileage penalties should be adjusted for inflation. (CAFE penalties have only slightly increased while aggregate inflation has been in excess of 100%.) Updating the CAFE penalties would ensure that automobile manufacturers would be more inclined to build vehicles that comply with the 2021 – 2025 vehicle emissions standards rather than pay the penalties in lieu of compliance.

Electrifying Transportation

At its May 31 business meeting, the CPUC, as part of the SB 350 Transportation Electrification planning process, adopted its revised Proposed Decisions (D.18-05-040) recommending approval of four transportation electrification programs and one rate design proposed by California’s three investor-owned electric utilities (PG&E, SCE and SDG&E) as their Standard Review Projects (expected to last roughly 5 years) totaling $738 million, with $29.5 million for program evaluation costs.

Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS)

On June 20, CARB staff issued a request for comments on clean-up revisions and on two additions the Board made to the LCFS program’s Phase 2 regulatory package: 1) work with stakeholders to develop a calculation method, accounting process, and related requirements to allow hydrogen sta-tions and EV direct-current fast chargers to earn credits on the capacity of the ZEV infrastructure; and 2) work with stakeholders to explore opportunities to increase the magnitude of ZEV vehicle rebates funded by sale of LCFS credits, especially at the point of sale.

CEERT has recommended that CARB allow transparent adjustments to the rate at which capacity credits are issued to ensure that the market price of LCFS credits is not undercut or compromised. We have also recommended that CARB investigate expanding the use of capacity credits to include fleets.

CARB will hold a workshop on August 8 to explore stakeholder perspectives on the first round of proposed revisions to the Phase 2 regulations, following which the agency may make further revisions. Staff’s goal is to complete all revisions in time for the Board to approve the package so the program can take effect January 1, 2019.

Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program

At its May business meeting, the CEC unanimously approved the Commissioner’s version of the 2018 – 2019 Investment Plan Update for the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The Investment Plan Update includes $134.5 million for EV charging infrastructure and $92 million for hydrogen fueling infrastructure. This funding will provide critical support for achieving the Governor’s targets of placing 5 million ZEVs on California’s roads by 2030, along with 200 hydrogen fueling stations and 250,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2025. The Staff Draft of the 2019 – 2020 Investment Plan Update will be issued during the late fall or early winter.