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California Becomes More EV-Friendly With 6 New Laws

Gov. Jerry Brown showed his support for electric vehicles (EVs), clean air, and reducing carbon emissions with the signing of six bills. In addition to EVs, all clean cars will benefit, including plug-in hybrids, FCVs and natural gas-powered.
October 3, 2013, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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It's not as if the state isn't already EV-friendly, writes Michael Cabanatuan. With the signing of one bill in particular (AB 8), California will fund the fueling infrastructure for fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs). More on that below. 

California is already a leader in electric vehicles with roughly 35 percent of the nation's plug-in vehicles, according to a 2012 study by the California Center for Sustainable Energy and the California Air Resources Board. The state's efforts to lead a surge in the number of electric vehicles on the road include an executive order signed by Brown that sets a target of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles in the state by 2025.

The governor signed the bills on Saturday, Sept. 28, National Plug In Day"Today, we reaffirm our commitment in California to an electric vehicle future," Brown said.

The bills the governor signed into law:

  • Extend until 2019 the white-sticker program that permits pure zero-emission vehicles - 100 percent battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell and compressed natural gas - to use carpool lanes, regardless of the number of occupants. (AB 266)
  • Extend until 2019 the green-sticker program that allows up to 40,000 advanced-technology low-emission vehicles to use carpool lanes. Qualifying vehicles include superclean plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and possibly some hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines [as opposed to hydrogen fuel cells]. (SB 286)
  • Make charging stations open to all electric-vehicle drivers, as well as easier to locate and simpler to use.
  • Require state housing and building standards agencies to develop standards for including electric-vehicle charging infrastructure in multifamily housing and nonresidential developments. (AB 1092)
  • Provide $48 million to fund incentive programs to encourage electric-vehicle purchases and fleet modernization efforts. (SB 359). See rebate program for more information..
  • Extend until 2024 several programs that intend to reduce automobile emissions by supporting low-emission vehicle technology development and modernization. (AB 8)

AB 8 was indisputably the most important bill for clean air advocates like the American Lung Association (co-sponsor) as it renewed three essential clean-air and alternative energy funding programs including California's Carl Moyer diesel pollution reduction program and California's AB 118 Alternative and Renewable Fuels and Vehicle technology programs.

In a letter to the legislature, Bonnie Holmes-Gen of the American Lung Association wrote, "The Carl Moyer and AB 118 programs have yielded tremendous air quality benefits to the state and provided needed assistance to California businesses to modernize fleets and accelerate the transition to a cleaner fuel mix. California simply cannot achieve the dramatic reductions needed under federal air quality requirements without the incentive funding provided by all three programs, Carl Moyer, local diesel reduction programs (AB 923) and AB 118."

However, AB 8 was not entirely without controversy. While co-sponsored by CALSTART and the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association and even supported by the California Truck Association because it "provide(s) truck owners incentives to get the dirtiest vehicles off our roads", according to the Long Beach Press Telegram, it was opposed by the Sierra Club because of a provision regarding who funds the fueling infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles.

David Siders of the Sacramento Bee writes, "While the Perea bill provides funding for the development of hydrogen stations, it also repeals the California Air Resources Board's authority to require oil refiners to ensure the availability of hydrogen fueling stations once a certain number of vehicles are on the road. The Sierra Club objected to stripping the air board of that authority, according to a legislative analysis."

Full Story:
Published on Saturday, September 28, 2013 in San Francisco Chronicle
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