California governor pushes for 5 million zero-emission cars

Friday, January 26, 2018 05:06PM
Gov. Jerry Brown Friday issued an executive order and called for a $2.5 billion investment to help putting 5 million zero-emission vehicles on California's roads by 2030. ((AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli))
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Jerry Brown outlined a $2.5 billion plan Friday to help Californians buy electric vehicles and expand a network of charging stations as part of an ambitious goal of getting 5 million zero-emission cars on the road by 2030.

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The executive order is Brown's latest step to advance an ambitious climate agenda during his final year in office. He has positioned California as a global leader in fighting climate change amid President Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord.

The number of zero-emission cars is a significant expansion of Brown's goal of selling 1.5 million such vehicles by 2025. It's a nearly 15-fold increase over the 350,000 zero-emission vehicles already on California's roads. The $2.5 billion in spending still needs legislative approval.

Reaching the goal will require that 40 percent of vehicles sold in 2030 be clean, said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, up from about 5 percent now.

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"We think that's a very reasonable proposal," Nichols said. "It's not a stretch."

Brown's plan would extend subsidies to help people buy emission-free vehicles. It seeks to have 250,000 electric-vehicle charging stations and 200 hydrogen fueling stations. That's an increase from about 14,000 charging stations and 31 hydrogen stations.

California will need to radically reduce pollution from the transportation sector to reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gases 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Pollution from cars, trucks and other modes of transportation account for the largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions.

The state has successfully reduced emissions from power plants thanks to the widespread adoption of wind, solar and hydroelectricity, but pollution from transportation has inched up.

Brown proposes using money from a mixture of existing programs and the state's cap-and-trade program, which caps pollution levels and auctions off permits to pollute.

The plan faces a number of obstacles. Consumers have been slow to warm to electric cars, preferring pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles. And while the number of electric options is growing, automakers and dealers have not aggressively marketed them to consumers.

Brown administration officials believe demand will increase as the cars become more visible on roadways and people learn more about them.

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