Clean Air Watch

EPA, California Notify Volkswagen of Clean Air Act Violations

Carmaker allegedly used software that circumvents emissions testing for certain air pollutants

Today, EPA is issuing a notice of violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (collectively referred to as Volkswagen). The NOV alleges that four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 include software that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. California is separately issuing an In-Use Compliance letter to Volkswagen, and EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have both initiated investigations based on Volkswagen’s alleged actions. Read more here.


Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works holds Hearing on Domestic Renewable Fuels

Recently, the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works held a hearing on Domestic Renewable Fuels. The hearing is titled “Oversight Hearing on Domestic Renewable Fuels.”  The first panel of Witnesses included Chris Grundler, Director at the Office of Transportation and Air Quality at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Steven Chalk, Deputy Assistant Secretary for renewable power at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. The second panel included Wesley K. Clark, co-chairman of the Board of Directors at Energy Growth, Jim Collins, Jr., Senior Vice President of Industrial Biosciences of Performance Polymers and Packaging & Industrial Polymers at DuPont, Charles T. Drevna, president at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, Jon Holzfaster, owner and operator at Holzfaster Farm, Scott Faber, Vice President of Government Affairs at the Environmental Working Group, and Brooke Coleman, Executive Director at the Advanced Ethanol Council.

California Governor Announces Initiative to Put 3.3 Million Zero-Emission Vehicles on the Road by 2025

Recently, Governors from eight states announced a initiative to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the roads in their states within a dozen years.

These governors have joined forces to revolutionize the automobile market by promoting zero-emission vehicles. The use of these clean vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and public health, enhance energy diversity, save consumers money, and promote economic growth.

Zero-emission vehicles include battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles. These technologies can be used in passenger cars, trucks and transit buses.

Clearing a path

This multi-state effort is intended to expand consumer awareness and demand for zero-emission vehicles. As a first step in this plan, the governors of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont signed a cooperative agreement. In this agreement, the governors identify specific actions they will promote within their states and joint cooperative actions these states will undertake to help build a robust national market for electric and hydrogen-powered cars.

For example, the governors agreed to pursue the following efforts:

  • Harmonize building codes to make it easier to construct new electric car charging stations
  • Lead by example by including zero emission vehicles in their public fleets
  • Evaluate and establish, where appropriate, financial and other incentives to promote zero emission vehicles
  • Consider establishing favorable electricity rates for home charging systems; and
  • Develop common standards for roadway signs and charging networks.

The eight states will develop an action plan over the next six months that will include many of these strategies and others.

Creating a market
These states are among a group of states which have adopted rules requiring about 15 percent of new vehicles sold to be zero-emission vehicles by 2025. Collectively, the eight signatory states represent more than 23 percent of the U.S. car market, and expect to have at least 3.3 million of these vehicles operating on their roadways by that time.

The market demand created by these state programs can help lower zero-emission vehicle costs through economies of scale and expand the range of product lines available to consumers.

The cars are here now
U.S. electric car sales in 2012 more than tripled to about 52,000 from 17,000 in 2011.  Motorists bought more than 40,000 plug-in cars in the first and second quarters of 2013.

There are currently 16 zero-emission vehicle models available from eight automotive manufacturers; nine run completely on batteries, two on hydrogen fuel cells and five are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that can run on gasoline as well as battery power. The number of models is expected to increase for model year 2014 and beyond. Several electric vehicle models have won awards for safety, performance and customer satisfaction over the past couple of years.

There are already more than 6,700 charging stations open to the public in the signatory states. By 2015 nearly every major automaker will have zero emission vehicles available for sale or lease, and more than 200,000 zero-emission vehicles are expected to be on the road across the U.S.

A healthier environment and economy
These clean vehicles will provide a major foothold in the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their consequences, which include sea level rise, increases in extreme weather, and wildfire intensity.

There are economic advantages as well. Electricity is the most widely available source of power and typically costs about two-thirds less than gasoline on a per-mile basis. By 2025, the average zero-emission vehicle driver will save nearly $6,000 in fueling costs over the life of the car.

Just in California, data provided by the state Community Colleges shows 46,000 businesses now related to advanced transportation, and nearly 600,000 jobs in that field. These include jobs building and servicing vehicles and infrastructure.

To view the cooperative agreement, or “Memorandum of Understanding,” click here. 

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