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California versus Trump and his mentally-retarded supporters…


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #50 on: August 04, 2018, 04:41:03 pm »


from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times…

California defends mileage rules; Automakers seek compromise

State rejects bid by Trump officials to freeze standards for fuel economy in 2020.

By EVAN HALPER, TONY BARBOZA and DAVID LAUTER | Friday, August 03, 2018

California and 13 other states with stringent rules account for over a third of new vehicles sold in the U.S. — Photograph: Photograph: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times.
California and 13 other states with stringent rules account for over a third of new vehicles sold in the U.S. — Photograph: Photograph: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times.

WASHINGTON D.C. — The Trump administration pushed ahead on Thursday with plans to unravel the federal government's most effective action to fight climate change — aggressive fuel economy standards aimed at getting the nation's cars and trucks to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

After months of discussion and drafts, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration formally unveiled their plan to rewrite those rules and replace them with some so lax that even automakers are wary.

The administration's plan would freeze mileage targets in 2020 for six years. It would also move to end California's power to set its own tougher greenhouse gas emissions standards and nullify the state mandate that automakers sell a specified number of electric vehicles.

EPA officials sought to portray the proposal as the administration's opening bid in a negotiation with California. State officials, however, denounced the plan as too extreme and threatened to fight it in court. California and the 13 other states that follow its more stringent rules say the Clean Air Act empowers them to keep the Obama-era standards in place in their markets.

Together, California and the other 13 states account for more than a third of the new vehicles sold nationwide.

The rollback would undermine those states' efforts to meet commitments the U.S. made in the Paris agreement on climate change. It would also worsen air quality problems in Southern California and other areas where officials are already struggling to reduce smog and ease rates of asthma and other illnesses.

The administration asserts that the fuel economy rules should not be used to attempt “to solve climate change, even in part,” because such a goal is “fundamentally different” from the Clean Air Act's “original purpose of addressing smog-related air quality problems.”

Administration officials acknowledged that flat-lining fuel economy improvements would come at the expense of pollution reductions and public health.

“If we lock in the 2020 standards, we're not getting as much emissions reductions as we otherwise would, and that translates into incrementally less protection of health and the environment,” said EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum, who oversees air and radiation issues.

“But balanced against that … we get substantial improvement in vehicle and highway safety,” he said. The administration argues that fuel economy and safety are inevitably in “tension,” as Wehrum put it. The Obama administration's higher efficiency rules would raise vehicle prices and “restrict the American people from being able to afford newer vehicles with more advanced safety features,” they assert.

“More-realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment,” said acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Environmental advocates and many outside scientists dispute that reasoning, pointing to extensive studies done during President Obama's administration that found higher fuel standards could be achieved without compromising safety.

The EPA's own scientists also have questioned the administration's position. Wheeler, who took over the agency after Scott Pruitt resigned in early July, warned during recent internal debates that the evidence behind the proposal was questionable and might not stand up in court, administration officials have said.

The release of the administration's proposal was repeatedly delayed in recent weeks as officials debated how aggressively to push. In the end, the White House approved taking a hard line.

California Governor Jerry Brown vowed to push back, saying the state would fight the new plan “in every conceivable way possible.”

“For Trump to now destroy a law first enacted at the request of Ronald Reagan five decades ago is a betrayal and an assault on the health of Americans everywhere,” Brown said, referring to the Clean Air Act. “Under [Trump's] reckless scheme, motorists will pay more at the pump, get worse gas mileage and breathe dirtier air.”

That combative stance seems likely to have broad support in the state. For example, Brown's Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has championed efforts to combat global warming, blasted in an online post “fake conservatives” who “believe in states' rights to make their own policies — as long as state policy is to pollute more.”

By contrast, the Trump administration's internal tensions were on display during a call with reporters on Thursday as transportation officials steadfastly defended the proposal while the EPA emphasized that it was not final and that a compromise with California and the auto industry could be reached.

“There's nothing about how greenhouse gases and potential climate change affects California that's any different than any other state in the country,” Wehrum said, adding, “There's no justification for California to have its own standards.”

But he left room for compromise: “Having said that, this is just a proposed rule, and on the other hand we are committed to working with California to try to find a mutually agreeable set of regulations.”

The California Air Resources Board will submit comments on the proposal but has no meetings planned with the administration, a spokesman said.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state would “use every legal tool at its disposal to defend today's national standards and reaffirm the facts and science behind them.”

The prospect of an extended legal fight has discomfited automakers, who had asked the administration to relax the Obama-era rules but don't want to see the U.S. market split in two, with different models of cars required in blue and red states.

In letters to Brown and Trump, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers, the industry's two lobbying groups, repeated their desire for changes in the Obama-era rules but notably did not endorse the administration's proposal to freeze the fuel standards in 2020.

The groups urged both sides to negotiate. “In our eyes, a negotiated settlement is preferable to a bifurcated system and years of litigation,” they wrote in the letter to Trump.

Vehicles are the single largest source in the U.S. of emissions that cause global warming, recently surpassing the electricity sector. The plunge in natural gas prices and other market forces have steadily lowered utilities' impact on the climate, but transportation is proving more stubborn. Electric cars and trucks still account for a tiny fraction of those sold, and driver preference for SUVs, along with relatively low gas prices, have inhibited progress.

The existing federal fuel economy targets, which were championed by California, ensure automakers keep moving toward higher-efficiency vehicles, as other nations also require. Those rules require automakers to meet fleet-wide averages of more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025, which when factoring in credits and other flexibility options translates to about 36 mpg in real-world driving conditions.

In comparison, the Trump proposal would freeze real-world fuel economy at about 30 miles per gallon, according to projections by the Rhodium Group, a research firm that tracks the progress nations are making in meeting climate goals.

The emissions impact of freezing those targets, as the administration favors, could be enormous. Official projections show the plan would increase daily fuel consumption by 2% to 3%, or about 500,000 barrels per day, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to the rise in global temperatures.

The Bay Area firm Energy Innovation, which models the environmental impact of energy policies, projects the proposal would increase U.S. fuel use 20% by 2035. The firm projects the policy would cost the U.S. economy $457 billion and cause 13,000 deaths by 2050 as air quality suffers.

The administration projects the efficiency rules would drive up the price of cars enough to push some buyers out of the market, leaving them to remain in older vehicles lacking life-saving new technologies like assisted braking and blind-spot warning. Flat-lining emissions standards, officials contend, would allow the auto industry to sell cars at lower prices, resulting in an additional 1 million new vehicle sales over the next decade.

The argument may prove a tough sell in court, where attorneys for states and environmental groups will come armed with a wealth of data undermining it.

“The fleet of new vehicles today is the most fuel-efficient ever, and they have gotten safer every year,” said Luke Tonachel, director of clean vehicles and fuels at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “These arguments are not new. They have failed before.”

Federal data show the increased cost consumers would pay for the more-efficient vehicles is dwarfed by the amount of money they would save at the pump, undermining the argument that drivers will stay in older, unsafe vehicles, advocates for the tougher rules say.

Trump administration officials conceded on Thursday that labor, parts and other costs — not fuel economy rules — are the main reasons cars and trucks are getting more expensive.

Automakers themselves have also confirmed that they can build lighter cars to meet tougher emissions standards without sacrificing safety, UCLA environmental law professor Ann Carlson wrote on Thursday. “The arguments about cost and safety are makeweights designed to provide cover for a proposal that is likely to be struck down in court.”

At a May meeting at the White House, auto firms appealed to Trump to tap the brakes on the administration's aggressive rollback plan. He assured them he would, ordering his EPA chief and Transportation secretary to try to broker a deal with California.

Those negotiations have gone nowhere. California is confident the administration has no legal authority to revoke the waiver the state has been granted under the Clean Air Act allowing it to keep the Obama-era rules in place. In May, California and 16 other states filed a preemptive lawsuit arguing the rollback would be illegal.

“There is no precedent for revoking California's waiver,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign of the Center for Auto Safety, an advocacy group in Washington. “There is no provision in the Clean Air Act for revoking a waiver…. The world is looking to California to hold its ground.”


__________________________________________________________________________

• Evan Halper writes about a broad range of policy issues out of Washington D.C. for the Los Angeles Times, with particular emphasis on how Washington regulates, agitates and very often miscalculates in its dealings with California. Before heading east, he was the L.A. Times bureau chief in Sacramento, where he spent a decade untangling California's epic budget mess and political dysfunction.

• Tony Barboza is a reporter who covers air quality and the environment with a focus on Southern California. He has been on staff at the Los Angeles Times since 2006, is a graduate of Pomona College and completed a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado.

• David Lauter is the Los Angeles Times' Washington bureau chief. He began writing news in Washington in 1981 and since then has covered Congress, the Supreme Court, the White House under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and four U.S. presidential campaigns. He lived in Los Angeles from 1995 to 2011, where he was the L.A. Times' deputy Foreign editor, deputy Metro editor and then assistant managing editor responsible for California coverage.

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« Reply #51 on: August 04, 2018, 04:41:26 pm »


from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times…

EDITORIAL: Trump steps on the gas pedal

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | Friday, August 03, 2018

OF ALL the Trump administration's assaults on the environment, there may be none more destructive than the decision to weaken fuel economy standards and let cars, passenger trucks and SUVs burn more gas and spew more pollution.

The fuel economy standards adopted by the Obama administration in 2012 were a central part of the United States' efforts to reduce the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. The regulations pushed automakers to move faster, requiring the new cars and trucks they sold to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

The Trump plan announced on Thursday would freeze average fuel economy at 37 miles per gallon in 2021. Worse, it seeks to revoke California's longstanding authority to set its own standards for cleaner vehicles. If successful, the Trump administration would be stunting decades of progress in California and other states toward cleaner, healthier air, and it would be hobbling the worldwide effort to combat climate change.

The administration's decision to roll back the standards is especially appalling now. We're already feeling the effects of global warming in more extreme weather events, from prolonged droughts, endless wildfire seasons and unprecedented heat waves to severe hurricanes and floods. And cars and trucks are the nation's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet despite the grave risk of delay, the Trump administration has put forth the flimsiest of justifications for the rollback. The plan, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, asserts that lower fuel economy standards will save lives — the higher price of more fuel-efficient vehicles (about $2,300 more per car, they say) encourages some people to continue driving older, less-safe vehicles, the agencies say. That ignores the fact that more fuel-efficient vehicles are cheaper to operate since drivers have to buy less gas.

It also ignores the very significant impact President Trump's threatened tariffs could have on imported cars. Automakers estimate the tariffs could increase the average cost of a car by more than $5,000, dwarfing any potential bump in cost from fuel efficient technology.

Manufacturers are clearly capable of producing more fuel efficient vehicles. In fact, most of the major car companies have already pledged to develop more electric vehicles in response to demands by China and European countries.

The Trump administration would leave Americans stuck in gas-guzzling vehicles and breathing smoggy air while the rest of the world enjoys the benefits of automotive innovation. And it would be yet another sign that the current president and his allies in Congress have totally abdicated their responsibility to protect the health of Americans and the environment.


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« Reply #52 on: September 30, 2018, 02:39:56 pm »


from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times…

L.A.'s bad air days: Smoggy skies for nearly 3 months

Ozone readings violated standards for nearly three months straight, the longest span in 20 years.

By TONY BARBOZA | Saturday, September 22, 2018

Unhealthful summer haze is not unusual in Southern California, but this year's persistence is troubling. — Photograph: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.
Unhealthful summer haze is not unusual in Southern California, but this year's persistence is troubling. — Photograph: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIANS might remember the summer of 2018 for its sweltering heat waves, record ocean temperatures and destructive wildfires. But it also claimed another distinction: the summer we went nearly three months without a day of clean air.

The region violated federal smog standards for 87 consecutive days, the longest stretch of bad air in at least 20 years, state monitoring data show. The streak is the latest sign that Southern California's battle against smog is faltering after decades of dramatic improvement.

The ozone pollution spell began on June 19 and continued through July and August, with every day exceeding the federal health standard of 70 parts per billion somewhere across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. It didn't relent until September 14, when air pollution dipped to “moderate” levels within federal limits for ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog that triggers asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

It's not unusual for Southern California summers to go weeks without a break in the smog, especially in inland communities that have long suffered the nation's worst ozone levels. But environmentalists and health experts say the persistence of dirty air this year is a troubling sign that demands action.

“The fact that we keep violating and having this many days should be a wake-up call,” said Michael Kleeman, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis who studies air pollution.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which is responsible for cleaning pollution across the region of 17 million people, said that consecutive bad air days is an inappropriate way to gauge progress curbing ozone, that this smog season was not as severe as last year's and had fewer “very unhealthy” days.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency judges whether the region meets Clean Air Act standards based on the highest pollution readings, not how long bad air persists. By federal metrics, air district officials argue they are making strides. The highest ozone levels recorded this summer, they point out, were lower than those in the previous year, and the smog season began later.

“By all accounts this year is not great, but it's a little better than last year,” said Philip Fine, deputy executive officer for the South Coast air district.




The bad air spell follows an increase in smog over the last few years that has bucked a long-term trend of improving air quality and left officials searching for answers. In 2017, the region logged 145 bad air days for ozone pollution, up from 132 ozone violation days in 2016 and 113 the year before.

By the same measure, this smog season is on par with last year, with 126 ozone violation days logged through Monday, according to air district statistics.

The district could not say if there had ever been a stretch of bad air days longer than the one this summer. The agency does not track consecutive violations of federal health standards, a spokesman said, because it “is not a useful or meaningful metric to gauge ozone air quality trends.”

Not everyone agrees. Joseph Lyou, a South Coast air quality board member who heads the Coalition for Clean Air, said he's concerned that although the intensity of Southern California's air pollution has dropped, its longevity is increasing.

“It's a disturbing trend no matter what the law says you're accountable for,” said Lyou, who asked about the streak of bad air days at a public meeting earlier this month. “It's telling us we have a persistent problem and that we still have a long way to go.”

Regulators blame the dip in air quality in recent years on hotter weather and stronger, more persistent inversion layers that trap smog near the ground. They're also planning a study into whether climate change is contributing to the smog problem, as many scientists expect, due to higher temperatures that speed the photochemical reactions that form ozone.

Hotter weather from global warming is not accounted for in pollution-reduction plans required under the Clean Air Act, even though scientists expect it to hinder efforts to control smog.

“This is one example of the close ties between air pollution and climate change, which makes meeting air quality standards even more challenging and illustrates the urgency for addressing climate change at all levels of government in the U.S. and globally,” said Barbara Finlayson-Pitts, an atmospheric chemist at UC Irvine who studies air quality.

Lyou worries that a failure to account for climate change could pose another obstacle to meeting federal ozone-reduction deadlines in 2023 and 2031. The air district's latest cleanup plan says the region can get there only by increasing local, state and federal cash incentives for lower-polluting vehicles by more than tenfold to $1 billion a year. But so far, it's falling far short.

Environmentalists and community groups say the string of smoggy days is a symptom of insufficient regulation. They criticize air quality officials as too quick to blame the weather when they could be doing more to crack down on some of the biggest hubs of pollution, including truck-choked warehouses and ports and oil refineries.

“We know that it's getting hotter and drier from climate change, but the law says we need to breathe clean air no matter the weather,” said Adrian Martinez, an attorney for the environmental law non-profit Earthjustice who chronicled the mounting number of ozone violations from his Twitter handle @LASmogGuy.

“The last time we met the standard, Justice [Anthony] Kennedy had not announced retirement yet & the World Cup just started,” Martinez tweeted on September 7, some 80 days into the spell. “This isn't right. Our lungs deserve better.”


Regulators blame the dip in air quality in recent years on hotter weather and stronger, more persistent inversion layers that trap smog near the ground. A display at Calvary Church in West Hills in the San Fernando Valley registered 117 degrees on July 6. — Photograph: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times.
Regulators blame the dip in air quality in recent years on hotter weather and stronger, more persistent inversion layers that trap smog near the ground. A display
at Calvary Church in West Hills in the San Fernando Valley registered 117 degrees on July 6. — Photograph: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times.


Experts say the unsteady progress in Southern California is expected, and a reflection of the difficulties in controlling ozone, which is not emitted directly but forms when combustion gases and other pollutants react in the heat and sunlight. The formation of smog is so influenced by weather conditions and the precise mix of pollutants in the air that scientists and regulators are not surprised to see ozone pollution tick up, despite a long-term trend of declining emissions.

“As we work to bring the whole region down, we're actually seeing some areas where the ozone production is getting more efficient,” said Kleeman, who thinks scientists should reconsider the effectiveness of control measures and whether targeting different types of pollutants could bring swifter reductions.

“Are we really doing the right things for the right reasons and is it having the effect that we think?” Kleeman said.

At the same time, health scientists are publishing more research linking ozone and other regional air pollutants to a wider array of health problems at levels well below regulatory limits. Such findings, they say, underscore the need to do as much as possible to curb smog and ease the number of asthma attacks, missed school days, emergency room visits and premature deaths — all of which increase when ozone pollution is high.

“There's no question that people with pre-existing lung diseases, particularly asthmatics, have had a harder time this year than they would have in previous years where there weren't so many exceedances,” said Michael Jerrett, who chairs the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health.

Such problems can be most acute in the smoggy Inland Empire. There, some are starting to view past success cleaning air pollution as an impediment to easing its health damage today. They say clearer mountain views can belie the fact that the air still exceeds health limits for much of the summer.

Smog's less visible presence can make it easier to live in denial about the health effects, said John Cadavona, a registered respiratory therapist who supervises Arrowhead Regional Medical Center's Breathmobile, a fleet of RVs that treat schoolchildren in San Bernardino County, where asthma rates and ozone pollution are both high.

“We have parents that think that a cough that their child has is normal, when it may be asthma,” Cadavona said. “If we had cleaner air, we'd have kids who were healthier, whose lungs can function normally and can play sports without having to take medication.”


__________________________________________________________________________

• Tony Barboza is a reporter who covers air quality and the environment with a focus on Southern California. He has been on staff at the Los Angeles Times since 2006, is a graduate of Pomona College and completed a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado.

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« Reply #53 on: September 30, 2018, 02:40:57 pm »


from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times…

State counters Trump on air rules

In an escalating fight, regulators vote to require automakers to hold to California's emissions standards.

By TONY BARBOZA | Saturday, September 29, 2018

The low-carbon fuel standard is expected to cut the cost of a new electric vehicle by up to $2,000 over the next 12 years. — Photograph: Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
The low-carbon fuel standard is expected to cut the cost of a new electric vehicle by up to $2,000 over the next 12 years.
 — Photograph: Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


IN AN escalation in the fight against climate change and the Trump administration, California regulators approved new measures to defend the state's vehicle emissions standards and bolster rules to cut carbon pollution from transportation.

The state Air Resources Board voted on Friday to require automakers to comply with California's strict rules on car and truck pollution if they want to sell vehicles in the state. It's California's latest move against the Trump administration's plan to freeze fuel economy targets and revoke California's power to set its own standards. State officials said the counterstrike was necessary to close a potential loophole automakers could use to avoid compliance with California's more stringent rules.

“The health of our state, our nation and the globe are at stake, and that is a fight worth having,” said state Senator Ricardo Lara (Democrat-Bell Gardens), who sits on the board.

The measure seeks to strengthen California's footing as it fights to preserve its emissions rules, both in court and in negotiations with the White House. At the same time, the move brings the nation one step closer to having two standards: one for California and the dozen other aligned states that account for one-third of the U.S. auto market, and another for the rest of the country.

During the board's meeting in Sacramento, the 16-member panel also expanded a climate rule that reduces carbon pollution with tradeable credits that gasoline and diesel producers must purchase from producers of lower-carbon fuels, such as hydrogen and biodiesel. By further incentivizing those cleaner technologies, the low-carbon fuel standard is expected to cut the cost of a new electric vehicle by up to $2,000 while raising gas prices by up to 36 cents a gallon over 12 years.

The market-based program, first adopted in 2009, aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by spurring technology advancements that reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels. The state imposes a gradually declining cap on carbon intensity from “well to wheel,” including oil extraction, fuel production and distribution. Companies that produce gasoline, diesel and other fuels must meet those carbon-reduction targets each year, either directly or by purchasing credits from clean-fuel producers that exceed those standards.

In extending its low-carbon fuel standard, the state will require a 20% cut in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 2030, compared with a 10% reduction by 2020 under the current mandate.

“These amendments will take California's climate fight up another notch,” air board chair Mary Nichols said.

Taken together, the actions show some of the ways California can forge ahead fighting global warming in spite of the Trump administration's moves to dismantle climate regulations. Much bolder actions will be needed to slash greenhouse gases to meet state targets, including the latest ambitious goal Governor Jerry Brown issued in an executive order earlier this month: making California's entire economy carbon neutral by 2045.

The transportation sector remains the biggest obstacle to California meeting its climate goals. Pollution from cars and trucks, already the state's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, has been rising the last few years as a result of more driving and the popularity of bigger, less-fuel-efficient SUVs.

The vehicle emissions standards the state is fighting to preserve would boost fuel economy of cars and trucks to about 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving by 2025, while the Trump administration proposal freezes it at the 2020 level of about 30 mpg.

The federal proposal would result in 12 millions of tons of excess greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in California, both from vehicle tailpipes and from refineries as a result of increased gas consumption, according to an air board analysis. That additional pollution would wipe out any benefits from the strengthened low-carbon fuel standards approved on Thursday, the board projected.

Automakers asked the Trump administration early on to relax emissions rules, but now say they don't want the market split into two, requiring them to build different models of cars. Auto industry representatives on Friday urged the Air Resources Board to hold off on the measure and try to reach a compromise with the federal government.

California officials dismissed that idea, but said they've continued negotiations with the Trump administration. After a meeting last month, the White House, federal officials and the California Air Resources Board issued a joint statement agreeing to future meetings “with the shared goal of achieving one national set of standards for vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.”

The low-carbon fuel standard reauthorized this week is one of the lesser-known pillars of California climate policy and is crucial for the state to meet its ambitious target of slashing greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Some of the changes to the program approved on Friday were designed to stimulate sales of zero-emission vehicles and the installation of electric charging and hydrogen fueling stations. Electric vehicles account for about 6% of vehicles sold in California, and that must ramp up dramatically if California is to meet its climate goals.

One notable provision directs utilities to use low-carbon fuel credits to offer increased rebates at car dealerships at the time of purchase, rather than by reimbursement after the fact. Customers would be offered an upfront rebate of up to $2,000 on the purchase of a zero-emission vehicle. The state-wide program, being developed by utilities and automakers, could begin as soon as 2019.

“This is money on the hood that can go to driving down the purchase price,” said Will Barrett, director of clean air advocacy for the American Lung Association in California. “It gives people a real tangible, on-the-spot incentive to make the clean-air choice.”

The auto industry says more generous rebates are needed because several car manufacturers are close to running out of federal tax credits of up to $7,500 per electric vehicle.

The fuel standard won't get California to its pollution-reduction targets on its own, but is an important part of state officials' three-pronged approach to reducing transportation emissions by shifting to cleaner fuels, slashing tailpipe emissions and reducing driving through transit-oriented development.

As part of the expansion of the program, the air board also established new protocols for generating credits through carbon capture and sequestration projects that collect emissions before they spew into the atmosphere and injects them underground. Those adjustments reflect a growing recognition by experts and regulators that sequestration will be essential to keeping global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius and avoiding the most devastating consequences of climate change.

The expansion of the low-carbon fuels program was greeted enthusiastically by biofuel producers and other renewable energy interests who benefit from the credit-based program and say it will help continue the shift toward cleaner technology.

The oil industry, the main target of the rules, has warned of increased costs that will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher gas prices.

Air Resources Board spokesman Dave Clegern said the low-carbon fuel standard is just one part of a portfolio of state greenhouse gas reduction policies that “has the potential to save individual California households money, as efficiency-related actions that reduce the amount of fuel used offset the somewhat higher costs of some low-carbon fuels today.”

During the two-day meeting, the state air board also approved a list of 10 communities hard hit by health-damaging air pollution from freeways, ports, warehouses, rail yards, oil wells, refineries and other industry that will be targeted for air monitoring, emissions reductions or both.


__________________________________________________________________________

• Tony Barboza is a reporter who covers air quality and the environment with a focus on Southern California. He has been on staff at the Los Angeles Times since 2006, is a graduate of Pomona College and completed a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado.

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