13 States Adopting California Clean Car Standards Would Reap Significant Economic and Environmental Benefits

June 30, 2009


Lori Sinsley, (415) 293.6097 (o), (415) 308-6970 (m) lsinsley@edf.org
James Fine, (916) 492-4698 (o), jfine@edf.org

(Sacramento, CA – June 30, 2009) Motor vehicle drivers in the 13 states that have adopted California’s Clean Car Standards approved earlier today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would save hundreds of dollars annually at the gas pump while reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gases, according to a report issued today by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The states—Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington—represent approximately one quarter of the U.S. vehicle fleet and vehicle miles traveled.

“Cleaner cars are a trifecta that will save families money at the gas pump, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and cut global warming pollution from tailpipes,” said James Fine, economist and policy scientist at Environmental Defense Fund.

Today’s EPA grant of California’s long-standing request for a Clean Air Act waiver immediately clears the way for vehicle emissions standards in these states to cut global warming pollution. The waiver request was denied under the Bush administration. Under a January 26, 2009 Presidential Memorandum, EPA was directed to reconsider the decision. The standards were adopted in Assembly Bill 1493 (2002, Pavley), the first law in the United States to set limits on global warming pollution from tailpipes. The waiver grant follows a breakthrough agreement announced by the Obama administration, states and automakers in May to put in place a national clean car program in model years 2012 to 2016 that is based on the state standards.

The new report, Saving Fuel, Saving Money, Saving Our Climate, compares automobile fleets under two scenarios for years 2010 through 2030. The first scenario is based on current and projected federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards. The second scenario is based on implementation of California’s vehicle greenhouse gas performance standards (i.e., Clean Car Standards) through 2020, with continued progress through 2030. These Clean Car Standards can be achieved using existing technologies, including: alternative fuels, advanced tire technology, engine adjustments and improved air conditioning systems.

“This study shows that once these standards go into effect in these states, drivers will save billions of dollars, while dramatically reducing global warming pollution from tailpipes, one of the major sources of global warming pollution,” said Fine.

The analysis features aggregate and state-specific results for the states that have already adopted the standards. Combined, the 13 states will avoid consuming 16 billion gallons of fuel in 2030, saving drivers $40 billion in fuel costs based on an average gas price of $2.50. Depending on future gas prices and actual miles driven, and after subtracting estimated costs of vehicles to comply with standards, drivers of 2030 model cars will gain net benefits between $33 and $560; drivers of light duty trucks will enjoy net benefits between $340 and $1,390. In addition to fuel savings, the standards will avoid 100 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2030 alone, and nearly one billion tons of emissions between 2010 and 2030. Cutting one billion tons of pollution is roughly equivalent to eliminating two years worth of California’s emissions from all sources, based on 2004 estimates of 484 million metric tons (MMT).

Low-income drivers will be hardest hit by rising fuel prices because they spend proportionately twice as much of household budgets on transportation compared to average drivers. Consequently, this same group of drivers will benefit most from more efficient vehicles. We estimate that people driving 10-year-old cars in 2030 are expected to gain an annual net benefit of $164 to $770 depending on the extent of driving, fuel prices and actual costs of car technologies required to meet the standards. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of the households in the 13 states are considered low-income.

New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have the largest fleets of the 13 states, so they will reap the greatest benefits. For example, New York drivers will save nearly $8 billion in fuel costs between 2010 and 2030 and avoid 184 MMT of GHG emissions between 2010 and 2030. New Jersey will save $4.1 billion and avoid 102 MMT of GHG emissions. See a table showing avoided fuel costs and GHG emissions from cars and trucks in 2030 in each state.

“California and these states have pioneered clean car standards that reduce one of this country’s leading sources of global warming pollution, while strengthening our national and economic security,” said Derek Walker, director of Environmental Defense Fund’s California Climate Initiative. 

The Saving Fuel, Saving Money, Saving Our Climate report analyzed automobile fleet data of 13 states using the VISION model developed by Argonne National Laboratory. The study compares fuel consumption and emissions for cars and light trucks in two scenarios based on vehicle fuel efficiency estimates developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Estimates of net benefits are derived from subtracting annualized vehicle modification costs from estimated of avoided fuel costs.