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California sets tough new clean car standards

The U.S. state that takes climate change most seriously—California—has unanimously approved new rules dubbed the Advanced Clean Cars program to lower carbon emissions, reduce oil dependence, mitigate health impacts from pollution, and save consumers money in the long-term. According to the new standards, by 2025 cars sold in California must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent and smog emissions by 75 percent. The program will also require 15.4 percent of all cars sold in California to be zero or near-zero emissions by 2025.

“[The Advanced Clean Cars Program will] cut dangerous air pollution, create new jobs and drive investments in the fast-growing clean energy economy,” said Erica Morehouse, an analyst with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), in a press release. “Because this program will be done in parallel with national standards, all Americans will reap the many environmental, health and economic benefits this program offers.”

Several large automakers—Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, and Nissan—also supported the new rules. While some have opposed the regulations because they would drive up the price for a new car, the board said higher costs would easily be made up by the new vehicles consuming less fuel and other benefits.

“Our research shows a $1,400 to $1,900 car price increase. But over the life of the vehicles, the owners save $6,000 in reduced fuel and maintenance costs,” board spokesman David Clegern said as reported by the AP. The regulations, which took 3 years to develop, are expected to cut oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels a day by 2025.

California, whose regulations are often tougher than the federal government’s, has long been in the driver’s seat on U.S. emissions and smog regulations with ten states to date adopting California’s smog rules as their own.

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