CARB States to Dictate Tailpipe GHG Emissions for Nation…(It’s a Good Thing)

  • Published on April 3rd, 2009

California has been able to set its own emission standards for years.  One might wonder why we are so special?  The rule harkens back to the days of LA smog being a daily headline across the nation, when air quality was so poor in some parts of California that drastic measures were needed here well before anywhere else in the nation.

So let me channel Rush Limbaugh and think like a political Mr. Magoo for a moment here… “Grumph, humph, so let me see if I get this straight…California and its liberals are the biggest polluter, so we placate them and give them special rules, that now (as of January when President Obama overturned Bush and asked courts to reconsider whether states should be able to set their own GHG standards in addition to the other pollutants already included in “California Emissions” packages included on cars) allow liberals to bully the rest of the nation to comply with their hippy, ecotopian view of what should be?  Grumph, humph..”

Kidding aside, the 17 states that have become known as the CARB states now stand to dictate GHG auto emission standards for the rest of the country.  If they are allowed to set GHG emission standards, the automakers will have no choice but to shift all their production to higher efficiency vehicles.  Why?  Because it is far more expensive to have two lines of vehicles, one for the 17 CARB states (40% of the auto market), and one for the rest of the nation.

The bottom line is many other states have signed on with California to raise the standards of greenhouse gas emissions in vehicles.  As an interesting aside, allow me to list these states and see if anyone else spots a certain political bent (think red/blue):

New Jersey
Rhode Island
New York
New Mexico



See a pattern?  Surely my inserted line was not so subtle.

What is subtle, however, about the shift from regulating pollutants like particulates, SOx and NOx, to regulating greenhouse gases is that the auto companies now have to actually produce vehicles that GET BETTER GAS MILEAGE.

How ridiculous is it that GM skewed well-intentioned tax credits for hybrid technology to their favor by creating:

2009 Cadillac Escalade hybrid ($80K, 20 City, 21 Hwy, $2200 tax credit)
2009 Chevy Tahoe hybrid ($50K, 21 City, 22 Hwy, $2200 tax credit)
2009 CMC Yukon hybrid ($52K, 21 City, 22 Hwy, $2200 tax credit)
2009 Saturn VUE hybrid ($28K, 25 City, 32 Hwy, $1550 tax credit)

Instead of complying with the intention of the law, they clearly complied with the letter of the law, and we now subsidize people to buy cars that get 20 MPG.  Allowing the CARB states to dictate GHG emissions on an industry level scale will take away the ability of car companies to get away with this kind of shenanigan.  No more flex-fuel incentives that reward companies for creating gigantic SUV’s that could use E85, but still only get 15 mpg, and somehow qualify for a tax credit.  No more hybrid SUV’s.  Wait, maybe no more SUV’s?  No more gas-guzzlers period?! Pure and simple, they have to create vehicles that use less gas.

From all political stripes, getting off of foreign oil dependency has got to be a winner.  Even Limbaugh and Fixed News would be on board.  Right?  Right?

Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business:  Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and looks forward to the day when the green economy is simply referred to as…the economy.

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Photo credit ToastForBrekkie on Flickr Creative Commons

About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on


  • Author says there are 17 CARB states which there may be but seems unable to list them all. If he either can't count or is unable to include all data to support his conclusions, I'm unsure why I should trust him as a reliable source.

  • I can't imagine anyone who wants a $50-80K vehicle will be swayed by a $2200 tax credit, particularly because the hybrid option is $5-10K more.

    The VUE is actually a legitimate hybrid and, for drivers that need to move both people and cargo at the same time (e.g. parents), 25/32 mpg is pretty good. Granted the Ford Escape is a slightly better option for city driving at 34/31 mpg, but as a consumer it's nice to have choices.

  • Left out Vermont, arguably the bluest of the blue with socialist Bernie Sanders offering the only sane voice in the US Senate

  • I am not sure how cali codes will kill SUVS CARB / CAFE CREATED SUV / truck classed people movers because the set different standards to cars and MPVs +

    pollution from tail pipes is mesured in parts per million not pound per mile and that makes big in efficiant engines easier to pass and small efficiant engines harder because (a 300 Bhp 6000 CC V8 puts out WAY more exhaust then a 100 Bhp 1500 CC I4 but has to meet the same persentage

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