Automobile CO2 Emissions Rule – California

Existing California law requires the California Climate Action Registry to perform various functions relating to emissions reductions, including maintaining a record of certified greenhouse gas emission baselines and emission reduction results.

Building on these existing requirements, this bill (AB1493) requires the registry, in consultation with the State Air Resources Board, to adopt procedures and protocols for the reporting and certification of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources – automobiles and trucks.

AB1493, does not state how emissions should be reduced in automobiles and trucks. It directs the California Air Resources Board to come up with regulations by 2005 that "achieve the maximum feasible reduction of greenhouse gases". The new standards would apply to vehicles from model year 2009 onward. The bill prohibits any regulations from taking effect prior to January 1, 2006, in order to give the Legislature time for review.

The Governor signed the bill on July 22, 2002, putting California at the forefront of a worldwide effort to reduce greenhouse gases. "This is the first law in America to substantively address the greatest environmental challenge of the 21st century," Gov. Davis said. "In time, every state – and hopefully every country – will act to protect future generations from the threat of global warming. For California, that time is now."

While the language in the legislation is focused on reducing emissions, the end result if enacted into law is an increase in fuel efficiency of automobiles sold into the California market. Efforts to increase fuel economy standards at the Federal level were blocked by the Bush Administration. The California legislation regulating tail-pipe emissions was an innovative way to enact fuel economy standards at the State level.

California is the only state empowered under federal law to pass stronger air pollution standards than those set by the federal government. Other states can then choose California’s standards, but cannot be the first to surpass those set by the federal government. Thus, passage of a California law leading to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from cars eventually could spark changes in the design of automobiles sold across the country.

The automotive industry sued the state and on November 25, 2008, the U.S. Federal District Court for Rhode Island dismisses automakers’lawsuit seeking to block the Clean Cars law, calling the carmakers’ attempts to bring successive lawsuits "costly and vexatious" and a"waste of judicial resources."

Sec 1 of the bill (see below) is quite telling on how the California Legislature views the issue of climate change.


AB 1493
Sec 1:
The Legislature hereby finds and declares all of the following:


      (1) Potential reductions in the state’s water supply due to changes in the snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the timing of spring runoff.

      (2) Adverse health impacts from increases in air pollution that would be caused by higher temperatures.

      (3) Adverse impacts upon agriculture and food production caused by projected changes in the amount and consistency of water supplies and significant increases in pestilence outbreaks.

      (4) Projected doubling of catastrophic wildfires due to faster and more intense burning associated with drying vegetation.

      (5) Potential damage to the state’s extensive coastline and ocean ecosystems due to the increase in storms and significant rise in sea level.

      (6) Significant impacts to consumers, businesses, and the economy of the state due to increased costs of food and water, energy, insurance, and additional environmental losses and demands upon the public health infrastructure.

  • (a) Global warming is a matter of increasing concern for public health and the environment in the state.

    (b) California is the fifth largest economy in the world.

    (c) The control and reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases are critical to slow the effects of global warming.

    (d) Global warming would impose on California, in particular, compelling and extraordinary impacts including:

    (e) Passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks are responsible for approximately 40 percent of the total greenhouse gas pollution in the state.

    (f) California has a long history of being the first in the nation to take action to protect public health and the environment, and the federal government has permitted the state to take those actions.

    (g) Technological solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will stimulate the California economy and provide enhanced job opportunities. This will continue the California automobile worker tradition of building cars that use cutting edge technology.

    (h) It is the intent of the Legislature to require the State Air Resources Board to adopt regulations that ensure reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases in furtherance of Division 26 (commencing with Section 39000) of the Health and Safety Code. It is the further intent of the Legislature that the greenhouse gas regulations take effect in accordance with any limitations that may be imposed pursuant to the federal Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. Section 7401 et seq., as amended by the federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-549)) and the waiver provisions of the federal act.