According to an Associate Press article, the state of Vermont joined California on Wednesday in regulating greenhouse emissions from vehicles. The changes by the Legislature's Administrative Rules Committee means that all 2009 and later model cars sold in Vermont will be required to meet higher fuel efficiency standards to reduce emissions such as carbon dioxide.
Vermont's move leads five other Northeastern states who are considering adopting the tighter standards, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island. All five states, as well as Vermont had previously adopted California's emissions standards for criteria pollutants (CO, NOx, SO2, Particulate Matter, etc.) which are stricter than the federal requirements.
When California beefed up its rules to take aim at carbon dioxide, the six Northeastern states that had followed its previous rules were faced with the decision to either make the same changes or fall back to the federal standard. The federal Clean Air Act requires that all states either follow the federal standards or meet an approved stricter standard. Currently, California's standard is the only such approved option.
According to Green Car Congress, under the new standards, one set of greenhouse gas emission standards will be established for passenger cars, small light-duty trucks, and small SUVs, and another set for large light-duty trucks (up to 8,500 lbs. GVWR) and large SUVS (less than 10,000 lbs. GVWR). Both sets of GHG standards would be gradually phased in between model-years 2009 and 2016. When fully implemented during model-year 2016, new motor vehicles subject to the regulation would be required to emit approximately 30% fewer GHGs than without the regulation.
Vermont’s analysis is that implementing the GHG regulations will cut total fleet emissions in the state from the 2002 baseline by 18% in 2020 (1,488.1 tons of CO2 equivalent) and by 27% in 2030 (2,630.5 tons of CO2 equivalent). Green Car Congress reports that motor vehicle emissions account for approximately 25% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions in the Northeast. Motor vehicle miles traveled are predicted to increase, representing the fastest growing portion of the region’s overall GHG inventory.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, backed by US automakers Ford and General Motors, have already moved to block the California standards in court, complaining about the costs of developing cars that comply with the stricter standards. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers claims that changes will add about $3,000 to the cost of a car.
Environmentalists counter that the increased costs are more like $1,000 per car, an amount easily offset by lower fuel costs. They also note that a number of car models on the road today meet the new standards.
Some have also argued that the standards amount to a backdoor attempt by the states to legislate tighter fuel economy standards, a right previously reserved for the federal government.
To this, I say, "So what!" If the feds wont do what the people want, they're gonna do it themselves!