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 coordinate with state and national NGOs to defend the 2022 – 2025 national passenger vehicle emissions standards (known as the Advanced Clean Cars regulations in California, which also set separate California-only zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) sales targets through model years (MYs) 2022 – 2025).

CEERT collaborated with Environmental Defense Fund in submitting written comments on the US-EPA reconsideration of the vehicle GHG emissions standards and on the scope of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and also signed on to a more general letter with 17 other state and national NGOs about the NHTSA CAFE EIS. All letters were in opposition to reopening and weakening the emissions standards, and reminded the EPA and NHTSA that sound detailed analyses conducted by CARB as part of its mid-term review, by the EPA in the Obama administration, and independently by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), all strongly indicate that continuing with the original program through MYs 2022 – 2025 is entirely realistic and feasible.

Moreover, these deep technical evaluations conducted as part the of midterm evaluation and review indicated that the costs for the automotive industry to comply are proving to be lower than anticipated when the regulations were adopted in 2012, when there were few if any battery-electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or fuel-cell electric car models on the road (3 in 2010 vs ~13 by the end of 2012 and ~40 by the end of 2017) and because of the learning from real-world experience that has resulted during the interim.

Our comments pointed out that transportation represents the largest source of GHG emissions in the U.S., and that any EIS must include an assessment of externalities not normally factored into the costs of using combustion vehicles and fuels. We also noted that any attempts to roll back the emissions standards would violate the requirements of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act to improve fuel efficiency and reduce petroleum demand.

Both the EPA and NHTSA are expected to issue their determinations on the tailpipe emission standards and CAFE regulation by March 31 or April 1. Depending on the outcome of those determinations, the agencies might either reaffirm both CARB’s and the Obama Administration EPA’s prior findings that no further action is required and the regulations should continue through to MY 2025 as planned when they were adopted in 2012. However, this is not the anticipated outcome, and it is expected that the EPA and NHTSA will issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making wherein the Trump administration will seek to weaken the regulations during a subsequent year-long rulemaking.

Electrifying Transportation

CEERT continues to monitor the CPUC’s Alternative-Fueled Vehicles rulemaking (R13-11-007) and the IOU transportation electrification plans (pursuant to SB 350) submitted as applications on January 20, 2017: SDG&E’s A.17-01-020, SCE’s A.17-01-021, and PG&E’s A.17-01-022 (all now consolidated under SDG&E’s A.17-01-020), as several CEERT affiliates are active parties in these proceedings.

On November 22, the CPUC issued a Proposed Decision on utility PRPs (priority review projects — projects costing less than $4 million and scheduled to last less than one year). The utilities proposed 15 projects (four PG&E projects, five SCE projects, and six SDG&E projects) designed to speed adoption of electric vehicles, improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These projects totaled nearly $41 million, with an additional $1.7 million for project evaluation. The projects include electrification of school buses, delivery trucks, airport/seaport equipment, truck stops, and commuter locations. Other projects include installation of fast charging for urban locations and incentives for car dealerships to sell more electric vehicles (EVs). Per the CPUC’s direction, the utilities had modified the projects included in the Pro-posed Decision to achieve a greater focus on disadvantaged communities.

Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS)

CEERT continues follow and participate in advocacy efforts to improve and extend the LCFS. CARB is holding public workshops to update and enhance the LCFS program. As previously noted, systematic improvements under consideration include: changes to the pathway carbon intensity application and evaluation process; improvements to reporting and credit generation processes; integration of mandatory third-party verification requirements; inclusion of new fuel types and revisions to credit generating provisions; and updates to lifecycle assessment modeling tools and the fuel pathway certification process.

CARB released draft regulatory text for the proposed amendments of the program in September, and CARB staff still plan to present a revised regulatory package to the Board in late 2018 or early 2019.

Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program

The first (staff) draft of the 2018 – 2019 Investment Plan Update for the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program was released to the public by CEC staff on November 2, and was the subject of a public Advisory Committee meeting on November 7.

The plan proposes $20 million each for EV charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure for fuel-cell cars, with electric and fuel-cell vehicle funding also being made available from the $17.5 million proposed for advanced freight technologies and the $12.7 million proposed for manufacturing, emerging opportunities, and work force training and development.

The Advisory Committee members (of which CEERT is an original and longstanding member) generally approved of the staff’s proposed partitioning of the $100 million in funds, while also noting that it would be useful to review the evolving state of charger technology and ways that manufacturers are designing future vehicles to have greater battery and charging capacity, so that the CEC and other agencies funding charging-infrastructure deployment can minimize deploying equipment that no longer meets the needs of the plug-in fleet. The Advisory Committee members also favored increasing the priority of funds to support workforce training and development to meet the growing servicing needs of the vehicle and charging/fueling market.