Eleven States Seek To Establish New Low-Carbon Fuel Standards

By KBB.com Editors on January 6, 2009 1:15 PM

The efforts to bring larger numbers of cleaner and more environmentally friendly vehicles to market moved ahead again with the announcement that the 10 northeastern states behind the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and Pennsylvania are seeking to create a new strain of regulations that will press manufacturers to bring more efficient vehicles to market. The RGGI coalition, which consists of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont plus the Keystone State is expected to draft a plan that would be similar to that already being proposed by California, which calls for a 10 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. It could also include specific target numbers for the use of alternative fuels and hybrid or electric vehicles.

A statement issued by Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles set out the goals by noting that: "Working together, the 11 states from Maine to Delaware will cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, spur the development of clean energy technologies like advanced biofuels and electric cars, and reduce our dependence on petroleum." The group hopes to have its plan completed, if not fully enacted, by the end of the year. While supporters anticipate more positive reception from the incoming Obama administration than similar efforts by California have received under the Bush regime, there's still no guarantee that either of these attempts to allow individual states to leapfrog existing federal standards in this critical arena will succeed.

Created in 2008, the RGGI is the first mandatory cap-and-trade program in the U.S. Under it, states are required to limit their current CO2 emissions from electric power generation and then reduce those levels by 10 percent by 2018. These cuts can be accomplished either directly or by using various offsets, such as trimming back greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions from new vehicles sold during that period.