Already well established as the most activist state when it comes to clean-air concerns, California has just enacted legislation requiring all 2009 and beyond vehicles sold there to carry a supplemental label that ranks their relative impact on the environment. Created by the California Air Resources Board, this additional Environmental Performance Certificate will provide buyers with both a Smog Score and a Global Warming Score. The rankings in both categories range from one through 10, with the highest number being best.
Smog Scores reflect the Golden State's bountiful and Byzantine assortment of acronym-laden bins and tiers that run from the least clean -- although still Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEV) -- offerings to pure Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV). The more straightforward Global Warming Score relates to the amount of CO2 a vehicle emits, which is directly tied to the amount of fuel it burns. In that category, the range runs from 520 or more grams per mile (gpm) of CO2 on the bottom end to a 10 rating vehicles that emit less than 200 gpm of CO2. Whether any of the other states that now follow California's stricter emission requirements (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) will also adopt this new Environmental Performance Certificate has yet to be determined.