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Driving Emissions to Zero. Are the Benefits of California's Zero Emission Vehicle Program Worth the Costs?

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The Zero Emission Vehicle ZEV program is a controversial part of Californias strategy for meeting federal air quality standards. The program has been significantly modified multiple times since it was adopted by the California Air Resources Board in 1990 and is currently being challenged in court. This report is an independent assessment of the costs and emission benefits of ZEVs and the other low-emission vehicles that manufacturers are allowed to use to meet ZEV program requirements. It reviews the program in the context of the overall strategy for reducing emissions in the greater Los Angeles area and makes recommendations for reform. The analysis and results presented should be of interest to government agencies, environmental groups, and automakers involved in developing policies to improve air quality in California. California has made significant progress in improving air quality in many parts of the state. However, substantial reductions in emissions of non-methane organic gases NMO3 and oxides of nitrogen NOx are still needed to meet federal standards in Californias South Coast Air Basin by 2010, as required by the Clean Air Act. The South Coast Air Quality Management District SCAQMD and the California Air Resources Board CARB have adopted an aggressive strategy to reduce emissions. A controversial part of this strategy is the states Zero Emission Vehicle ZEV program, which requires that auto manufacturers begin selling ZEVs starting in 2003. The ZEV program is a first step in achieving CARB 5 long-term goal of reducing emissions from Californias motor vehicle fleet to zero. CARB believes that reliance on traditional gasoline-engine technology will not allow California to meet federal air quality standards. This report examines whether ZEVs are a cost-effective way to achieve air quality standards in California. To this end, it examines the promise of technologies that could be used to satisfy ZEV program requirements.

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  • Surface Transportation and Equipment
  • Air Pollution and Control

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