CARB is gearing up for an unprecedentedly busy year with more projects and programs on its docket than ever in the board’s history. Executive Officer Richard Corey outlined the agency’s priorities and objectives for 2016 at the Jan. 21 board meeting, highlighting the push for next-generation clean technologies, new regulations to meet California’s air quality goals, and funding for programs that will transform the transportation industry.
“CARB’s robust 2016 schedule reflects the urgent need to meet state environmental goals and to proceed with existing, planned, and developing programs. Our industry knows these goals cannot be reached without changing from diesel to alternative fuels,” said Ryan Kenny, senior public policy and regulatory advisor at Clean Energy.
CARB plans to take action on several ongoing regulatory measures this year. Throughout 2016, the staff plans to work on State Implementation Plans (SIPs) as well as the Advanced Clean Transit rule. Drafts of both the Climate Change 2030 Target Scoping Plan and the Federal Clean Power Plan Rules are due in the spring, with the final versions expected in the fall. CARB will hear updates to the Sustainable Freight Action Plan in early and mid-2016. Also due midyear is the final draft of the Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy. Finally, CARB plans to update the Sustainable Communities Act (SB 375) regional emission targets late in 2016.
New regulations are in the works as well, including low-NOx standards for heavy-duty trucks and post-2025 clean car standards.
In the technology area, Corey listed increasing zero-emission vehicle penetration and introducing the next generation of cleaner fuels and technologies, including RNG, as top CARB priorities for 2016.
This is an area where the Coalition hopes to work with CARB. Kenny noted that near-term ZEV technologies are aimed at light- and medium-duty vehicles, particularly cars.
“If you want to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet other state environmental goals, you have to look at the heavy-duty transportation sector,” said Kenny. He and others have noted that while CARB prefers battery electric and fuel cell technologies, they may not be feasible for heavy-duty transportation for another 15 to 25 years.
“We are hopeful that ARB has been swayed a little more recently toward natural gas vehicles because of the Cummins Westport near-zero-emission 0.02 NOx natural gas engine. It’s a game changer,” he added.
Noting that consistent funding is necessary to meet California’s air quality goals, Corey said that gaining approval for CARB funding allocations is also a top priority in 2016, particularly for the Low Carbon Transportation Funding Plan and the Carl Moyer Program. CARB is hoping to influence the spending of Cap-and-Trade Program proceeds, too.
CARB also recognizes industry’s need for incentives, and Corey said the agency plans to balance regulatory and incentive-based approaches to bring new technologies to market.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that ARB staff and some board members are beginning to lean in a positive direction toward supporting heavy-duty vehicle incentives that meet a 0.02 NOx standard. But it’s early and we have much work to do,” said Kenny, who pointed out that this year’s legislative budget hearings will address appropriation of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds, including funding incentives and other alternative fuel projects. The CARB staff presentation of priorities for 2016 and successes in 2015 is available here.