The state unveiled a new set of clean car regulations Wednesday that aim to sharply increase the number of electric cars on California's roads, boost fuel efficiency and reduce air pollution.
The proposed rules largely parallel President Barack Obama's goal of doubling the nation's auto fuel economy standards for new cars from the current 27.3 mph to 54.5 mph by the year 2025.
But the rules from the California Air Resources Board cast a wider net. In addition to setting fuel economy standards, they regulate the amount of smog-forming emissions for cars and set targets for the number of zero-emission cars on California roads. They require construction of refueling stations for hydrogen fuel cell cars.
The goal is to put more than 1.4 million battery and hydrogen-fueled cars and trucks on state roads by the year 2025, or roughly 15.4 percent of all the vehicles in California.
"This is historic regulation," said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, executive director for air quality and public health for the American Lung Association in California. "This represents the pathway to transform our vehicle fleet in California to the cleaner, low carbon fuels."
Critics say the rules will drive up the state's already high cost of doing business and prompt companies to leave, while raising the cost of living for consumers.
"At a time when the state is struggling to balance its budget, we have regulatory agencies on a jihad driving the private sector out of the state of California," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
The Air Resources Board will consider adopting the new rules on Jan. 26.
In a news release, the board said the rules will save California motorists more than $22 billion while eliminating 52 million tons of greenhouse gases. And while new advanced clean cars rules will increase the sticker price for a 2025 new car model by an expected $1,900, they will help consumers save more than $6,000 in fuel costs over the life of the car, the board said.
The ARB also said the rules will help expand California's emerging electric vehicles industry. A recent report by San Francisco-based nonprofit Next10 found that California leads the nation in patents for electric vehicle technology. Globally, it trails only Japan and South Korea.
"These rules will make California the advanced car capital of the world, driving innovation, patents (and) technology that will generate thousands of jobs here," said James Goldstene, executive director of the air board.