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The Impact of California’s New Environmental Standards

The Impact of California’s New Environmental Standards

The State of California has big plans for cutting carbon emissions within the state, the strictest in the nation, and testing is underway on new vehicles and technologies to try and make it happen. Cars sold from 2015 and on will need to get increasingly more environment friendly until 2025, when regulations expect all new vehicles are meet the new criteria. Overall, there needs to be a 75% smog reduction and a 34% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by the year 2025.

The transportation industry is going to need some drastic changes over the next twenty years and many organizations and groups are already diligently working to make the appropriate changes. Technological advancements will need to be made to cut pollution from ships, trains, buses and airplanes. Millions of traditional gas-powered vehicles will need to be taken off the road to be replaced by electric cars. Vans and buses will need to switch to cleaners hydrogen fuel cells. “We have to go to zero tailpipe emissions,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. “There’s really no other solution.”

Because the leading source of air pollution is attributed to vehicles, that is where most of the changes will be expected to come from. Within that sector, heavy-duty diesel vehicles that haul goods on port, roads and rail yards produce 45% of the pollutions with in the state, which is far greater than emissions from passenger automobiles. These non-commercial vehicles have been able to drastically cut tailpipe emissions over the past 50 years, but heavy-duty trucks are lagging behind.

Reports project that diesel engines will continue to be the norm for heavy-duty vehicles through 2030, but they will have to continue to get cleaner. “While today’s trucks are significantly cleaner than their predecessors, we’ll need new engine standards that are about 90% cleaner,” said Karen Magliano, chief of the air quality planning and science division at California Air Resources Board (CARB).

The ground-breaking technology being uses on non-commercial vehicles will need to be scaled up and incorporated on commercial vehicles. Part of the reason that the trucking industry is so far removed from the public’s vehicles performances is that the CARB hasn’t begun to require zero-emissions requirements for freight, according to Chris Shimoda, policy director for the California Trucking Association.

But there is reason for that… “The engineering challenges of trying to get a battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell truck that can haul 80,000 pounds across the country”…is much more difficult than in a passenger car. “It’s going to take time to introduce that technology,” Shimoda said. Scott Samuelsen, an engineering professor who directs the Advanced Power and Energy Program at UC Irvine, said the question “is how to make an economically viable transition of a freight industry that’s evolved with diesel engines.”

While some groups look to replace diesel engines with cleaner options, others are looking to improve up the existing models. The CARB is testing such an engine in the L.A. lab. While the truck is one of the cleanest out there, is still spits out 20 times more smog-forming nitrogen oxides than the standard gas engine, which isn’t good enough to meet the standards. CARB lab manager Keshav Sahay simple states, “We have to do more.”

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