Arizona Dumps Stricter CA Emissions Standards Over Electric-Car Rules

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California has always led the nation in mandating reduction of tailpipe emissions and development of low- and zero-emission vehicles.

For several years now, states have had the option of adopting stricter California vehicle-emissions regulations or sticking with the national standards. Roughly a dozen states have voted to adhere to the California rules.

Now, Arizona is becoming the first state to give up the stricter California standards and revert to the national standards issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the Cronkite News, the Arizona Governor's Regulatory Review Council voted 5-1 on Tuesday to repeal the state's Clean Cars law. That program included stricter California limits on tailpipe emissions, and mandated sales of a small number of zero-emission vehicles by larger carmakers.

The change came at the request of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, which argued that the state did not have the infrastructure in place to support rollout and adoption of zero-emission vehicles.

Translated, that means ADEQ doesn't appear to believe that Arizonans would buy plug-in cars without a widespread network of public charging stations.

The Governor's Council criticized ADEQ for not submitting any data or models on the economic impact of the regulation that it wanted to repeal.

ADEQ director Henry Darwin attributed his department's recommendation to its sense that the relatively conservative Arizona legislature had sent "a very clear message" that the state should not have stricter emissions requirements than the national rules.

Jim Stack, president of the Electric Auto Association of Phoenix, countered that Arizona is known as the "brown cloud state," a problem that electric vehicles could begin to address.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adminstrator Lisa Jackson and President Barack Obama

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adminstrator Lisa Jackson and President Barack Obama

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The Clean Cars program covered vehicles for the 2012 through 2016 model years. It had been adopted in 2008 under then-Governor Janet Napolitano.

California's stricter limits, which were the subject of an extensive court battle, stemmed from the state's longstanding status as a pioneer in limited vehicle emissions. It did so well before any national limits on emissions existed, and even before the 1970 establishment of the national EPA.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed California's right to regulate the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide as a tailpipe emission, in addition to traditional "criteria emissions" of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and hydrocarbons, along with particulates and evaporated fuel.

That decision led the Obama Administration to lean heavily on the EPA, the NHTSA, California, and the major automakers to come up with a single, unified set of standards for fuel economy and emissions for 2017 through 2025 vehicles.

That agreement was announced by the White House in July, and rules are now being written for its implementation.

Once again, however, it appears that California will add requirements for zero-emission vehicle sales on top of the national standards.


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Comments (10)
  1. Personally, I am gratefully for California's leadership on this issue. Hopefully here in Massachusetts we will continue with the California emissions rules and get some EVs.

  2. Do you think the auto makers would have installed smog control devices without a push from the states to clean up the air? I can tell you that the last Republican President stalled the clean air issues for eight years; do you remember the EPA mashup? Installing a charging infrastructure before selling BEVs is not necessary and the early adopters in California have proven that. I think this is another fog created by Oil interest to slow down the advancement of clean vehicles and to prevent clean cars from biting into their profits.

  3. As a Californian, I wish we could opt out of our own standards which have been foisted on us by ignorant zealots.
    Trying to force elecric vehicles on people particularly to fight the hoax of man-made global warming is the very definition of stupidity. That of cousre will not detter our totally unacountable AQMD.

  4. You belong in Arizona with its backward view of the world.

  5. Steve exemplifies the definition of stupidity: Unable or unwilling to understand that saving our environment will make for a better world. Sorry Steve, but you need to reassess your environmental priorities.

  6. Well... don't register you car and you won't have the problem. :) Registering it makes it a vehicle subject to...

  7. a sad day but the Electric Vehicle will have it's revenge even without the Clean Car policy.
    Who in their right mind would drive a gas car that is less than 20% efficient when you could drive a sleek American made EV that is over 80% efficient , regenerates energy instead of wearing out brakes causing dust and heat.
    A gas car makes 20 lbs of pollution for each gallon burned.
    The US Imports 50% of the OIL burned at a cost of $1 Billion a day.

    You choose.

  8. I say the stated "translated" means nothing; just an addendum/BTW to the comment on ZEV's. Arizona is making a point of not forcing people into a decision. It makes more sense than telling someone they will or should buy a ZEV to meet the state quota.

    What if you had something better than ZEV; say NEV--negative emissions vehicle. What if your vehicle cleans the air rather than be neutral, as in a ZEV -- are you covered by the California regulations or are you forced to bring your vehicle back to just being zero emissions?

  9. Even if the conservative citizens of Arizona aren't interested in the environment, I would think they'd be interested in decreasing risks to our economy and national security by reducing our dependence on the global oil market.

    Failing that, I'd expect saving money to be a motivator. If you compare the total cost of owning and operating an electric car over a comparably equipped gas car, the savings over 5 years is significant, especially with Arizona's low off-peak electrical costs. Plus, it's very liberating to not care about the price of gas.

    It seems to me that Arizona needs a consumer education program on electric vehicles, starting with the legislature.

  10. i cannot believe that AZ has decided against "clean" legislation because it is not "convenient" enough for them? we have abused this planet and that needs to stop ASAP. we are destroying our home and the ability to live healthy productive lives. there is no free lunch here. there is no "cheap and easy" solution. it will take a lot of work and change. we can debate on whether its a good change or a bad change but there is no debate on whether change is needed. does anyone really think we can go on as we are now??

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