Eight States Sign Pact to Put 3.3. Million Zero-Emission Vehicles on Road by 2025

By Carolyn Whetzel  

Oct. 24 --California, New York and six other states have joined forces on a plan to put 3.3 million battery-electric, plug-in hybrid-electric and fuel cell-electric vehicles on the road over the next 12 years.

At a news conference Oct. 24 in Sacramento, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols said the governors of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont have signed an agreement to launch an initiative to boost consumer awareness and demand for zero-emission vehicles.

All eight states have adopted rules, modeled on California regulations, requiring about 15 percent of the new vehicles sold to be ZEVs by 2025. Many of the states also have set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

Representatives from several of the states participated in the event to unveil the memorandum of understanding, which calls for establishment of a multistate task force to develop a plan within the next six months to cooperate in implementing the states' respective ZEV regulations.

This initiative, “over time, will help usher in a new chapter in transportation for the U.S.,” Nichols said.

Deb Markowitz, Vermont's secretary of natural resources, said widespread deployment of ZEVs is needed to help each of the states achieve its clean air and energy goals.

“We want to drive the ZEV market beyond just the early adopters,” Markowitz said. “This will drive real action.”

Accelerating the ZEV market will reduce transportation-related air pollution and greenhouse gases, create a more diverse energy economy, promote economic growth and save consumers money, Markowitz said.

Provisions of Agreement

The memorandum includes commitments to develop measureable goals; jointly develop a fueling infrastructure capable of supporting 3.3 million ZEVs; develop uniform standards for signage, payment options for charging infrastructures and the interoperability of charging networks; evaluate and study the effectiveness of financial and non-monetary incentives for ZEVs; and buy ZEVs for government fleets.

“This is not just an agreement, but a serious and profoundly important commitment,” California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said in a written statement.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said the pact “complements work already underway through the Transportation Climate Initiative, in which Maryland and other East Coast states are working to develop a robust charging station network along the I-95 corridor that will permit long-distance travel in electric cars throughout the region.”

“Increasing electric vehicles in our fleet is a critical component of our efforts in Massachusetts to address air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and grow the clean energy economy,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) said.

“The states are committed to working with the automakers, refueling infrastructure suppliers, the electric utilities and other partners to ensure the success of zero-emission vehicle programs from all our perspectives,’’ Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) said.

Automakers Support Effort

Steven Douglas of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers told Bloomberg BNA that the agreement “is a positive step” and said the companies in his organization are committed to working with the states.

Sales of electric vehicles in many of the states have been slow, Douglas said.

Public health and environmental advocates applauded the multistate compact.

“Clean, zero-emission vehicles are critical to cleaning the air and reducing asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes and other harmful health impacts caused by traffic pollution,” Susan S. Griffin, a member of the American Lung Association's board of directors, said. “These clean air vehicles will also help us kick our addiction to dirty fuels.”

Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America, said the efforts to accelerate the introduction of “new, more efficient and gasoline-free transportation options are welcome and needed.”

Collectively, the eight states account for about 25 percent of car sales in the U.S., Nichols said.

The market demand for electric cars is increasing, the states said. In 2012, 52,000 of the cars sold in the U.S. were electric vehicles, compared with the 17,000 sold in 2011.

The Union of Concerned Scientists said in an Oct. 23 statement that sales of both plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles are up from 2012, numbering 59,000 through the end of August.

Currently, eight automobile manufacturers offer 16 zero-emission vehicle options, nine that run on batteries, two on hydrogen fuel cells and five that are plug-in hybrids that operate on batteries and gasoline, the states said. By 2015, nearly every major automaker will have ZEVs for sale or lease, according to the states.


To contact the reporter on this story: Carolyn Whetzel in Los Angeles at cwhetzel@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Sullivan at jsullivan@bna.com

The memorandum of understanding is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=smiy-9cssxk.