This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 30, 2002

New Zero-Emission Vehicle Rules On Hold in California

California's latest set of rules for Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEVs), issued by the state's Air Resources Board (ARB), have failed to win approval from the California Office of Administrative Law. The ARB announced last week that the rules were apparently not approved because it failed to follow proper procedures when giving notice of its proposed changes to the program. ARB has 120 days to remedy the situation, and it expects to meet that deadline. See the notice on the ARB Web site.

New York, meanwhile, is pressing ahead with its own version of the ZEV program. The state's current regulations require ten percent of all vehicles sold in the state to be ZEVs, which in practical terms means electric vehicles, starting with Model Year 2005. Early this month, Governor George E. Pataki announced an alternative approach for automakers that starts a year earlier but includes credits for vehicles with near-zero emissions — vehicles referred to as Partial ZEVs or PZEVs in the California rules. The new approach also allows partial credits for PZEVs that use alternative fuels or hybrid technologies. These changes are similar to changes made in California by the ARB, but on a slower timetable. See Governor Pataki's press release.

State standards for auto emissions are governed by unusual rules: by federal law, only California can set stricter standards than the federal standards, and other states must either follow federal standards or adopt standards essentially equal to California's. This approach helps keep the standards manageable for automakers, but places California in a leadership position. New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont have followed California's lead on ZEV rules. Reportedly, Massachusetts is now taking an approach similar to New York's, and Vermont has not yet announced what approach it will take.