California Approves Greenhouse Gas Regulations for Vehicles

September 21, 2005

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced on September 19th that the state's greenhouse gas regulations for vehicles were approved by the California Office of Administrative Law on September 15th and filed with the Secretary of the State. Beginning with Model Year 2009, the new rules set limits for the total greenhouse gas emissions that new vehicles can emit per mile. The limits tighten each year after that, and by 2016, greenhouse gas emissions from lighter vehicles will be cut by one-third, while greenhouse gas emissions from heavier vehicles will be cut by about one-quarter.

Specifically, the rules set limits on the amount of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons (typically used as refrigerants in air conditioning systems) emitted per mile by the entire fleet of vehicles produced by an automaker. The manufacturers can earn credits for early compliance or for exceeding the requirements, and they can trade the credits with other manufacturers. Manufacturers earn debits for falling short of the requirements, and have up to five years to earn enough credits to erase the debit, after which they will be subject to civil penalties. The new rules will take effect on January 1st, 2006. See the CARB Web site.