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Monday, June 26, 2006

News From My Backyard: Oregon Formally Adopts California Emission Vehicle Standards

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) last week unanimously approved the permanent rules to adopt California’s Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Standards, including mandated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

This brings to 11 the number of states that have adopted California's pioneering emissions standards, which include standards for carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas. These states now include: California, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey [see map below]. Oregon’s adoption of LEV rules also brings the rules to Washington, which adopted the standards contingent on Oregon adopting them.

[Image: States that have adopted the California Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) rules]

Under the federal Clean Air Act, states can opt either for federal emission standards (EPA) or adopt the emission standards developed by California. Federal law requires states that adopt California emission standards to do so identically, thereby preventing the need for manufacturers to produce a “third vehicle” to meet the new standard. However, states do have flexibility to customize implementation of the standards.

Oregon’s implementation of LEV rules will take effect with the 2009 model year—the same year greenhouse gas reductions will take effect in several other states.

California LEV standards have two main components. The first is the reduction of traditional criteria pollutants such as NOx and non-methane organic gases. The other is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with progressively restrictive emission limits from 2009 through 2016, at which time new vehicles must emit an average of 30% less CO2 equivalent.

The targeted results are expected to be achieved using existing technologies or alternative fuels.

Oregon’s implementation of the LEV has some of the following differences from California LEV:

  • Delaying the deadline for manufacturers to provide Type III ZEVs (hydrogen fuel cell vehicles) in Oregon. The delay allows DEQ and the EQC to monitor the development of a hydrogen-refueling infrastructure as one key trigger for the requirement. Other vehicles used to meet the ZEV requirements—including battery-electric vehicles, partial zero emission vehicles (PZEV) and advanced technology partial zero emission vehicles (ATPZEV)—are required in 2009 under this rulemaking as specified in the California program.

  • Oregon’s implementation does not require manufacturers to provide low-emission PZEVs and ATPZEVs with a 15-year or 150,000 mile warranty on all emission-related components, as do the california LEV rules. However, to ensure that Oregon does not receive less durable vehicles, it does require that PZEVs include the same quality components as those vehicles supplied to states that require the warranty.

  • The Oregon LEV rule incorporates NMOG fleet-average phase-in provisions adopted in Washington, which require manufacturers to meet the NMOG fleet average emission limit at the end of a three-year transitional period. During the phase-in period, manufacturers may earn emission credits in each of the three years, and may drop up to two years of emission debits. The balance of the three-year transitional period is then carried forward.

  • Resources:

  • DEQ Staff Report on Oregon LEV

  • Oregon Governor’s Vehicle Emissions Workgroup Report

  • Well, Kulongoski finally got this one down. I can now think of one thing he has actually accomplished during his term in office. Excuse my sarcasm, but my dissapointment in Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski's ability to actually implement the strong environmental programs he talks about has been mounting for some time now. The actual implementation of this significant piece of regulation comes as a major relief.

    This move by Oregon's DEQ now creates a zone spanning the entire West Coast of the US that follows the stricter emissions standards, including (crucially!) CO2 emissions standards. The entire Northeast, minus New Hampshire, also follows these standards, meaning that much of the U.S. population is now subject to the stricter emissions standards pioneered by California.

    Now, the last step is to win the suit filed by the U.S. auto industry to crush the California standards. Detroit claims that the California LEV standards are legislating fuel economy standards, something (for some silly reason) only the Fed is allowed to do. While this argument seems rediculous to me - the standards are for CO2 emissions, not fuel economy, with increasing fuel economy being only one way to reduce CO2 emissions - given the pro-business slant of many federal judges (especially those appointed by President Bush), who knows how far this case will go.

    [A hat tip to Green Car Congress and Oregon Public Broadcasting]


    Heiko said...

    Can you explain how the CO2 emissions standards work?

    I am a little perplexed about what the legislation exactly entails.

    Is this like CAFE for fleet averages? Could it be met by flexible fuel vehicles?

    If it's a limit like 160 g/km, then how does it take account of large cars/trucks? Are those effectively outlawed? Or do they get a different standard? Or do they have to be flex fuel?

    Jesse Jenkins said...

    Sorry Heiko, I should have linked to this earlier, but here's my original post on the California standards (when CA implemented them back in October of last year).

    It should answer most of your questions, and if it doesn't, there's links there to the actual rule.

    Heiko said...

    Thanks. 21 pages of rules make my head spin.

    I noticed this bit in there:
    "Light-duty trucks from 3751 lbs.
    LVW – 8500 lbs. GVW that are certified to the Option 1 LEV II NOx Standard in section
    1961(a)(1) are exempt from these greenhouse gas emission requirements, however, passenger
    cars, light-duty trucks 0-3750 lbs. LVW, and medium-duty passenger vehicles are not eligible for
    this exemption."

    Is this effectively an exemption for SUV's, as long as they are low Nox?

    Jesse Jenkins said...

    Hmm.... that sure looks like it. I'm not sure. That would be a real dissapointment.

    If it is an exemption for SUVs, than I'm not sure why Detroit is getting to upseat about the California standards. It seems to me that a loophole like that - big enough to drive a fleet of SUVs through - would make GM and Ford pleased as punch. The fact that they are fighting these standards so hard makes me think it might not be a loophole.

    I'll have to look into this if I have some time. Thanks for the good spot, Heiko.