Green Tech Moving Forward: California Charges Ahead on Trains, Plans and Automobiles
The same day analysts worried Detroit’s Big Three might bail on cleaner cars without a bailout of their own, the Golden State celebrated a sweeping climate action plan to lower greenhouse gases and meet its self-appointed goal to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Unanimously passed by the California Air Resources Board on Thursday, the AB 32 Scoping Plan covers many areas and includes locomotive to automotive transportation, such as:
- Full deployment of high-speed rail
- Implementation of California’s clean cars standards
- Implementation of a low-carbon fuel standard to clean up fuels used in the state
The Air Board says this action plan will lead to more electric cars on the road. It also tops off a statewide string of electric events throughout the month of November:
Nov. 4 — California voters approved a massive $10 billion in bonds to fund the first phase of an 800-mile bullet train linking the state’s major urban centers. Although some would have preferred more commuter rail investment, many agree it’s past time for this region to reap the economic and environmental benefits of high-speed rail seen around the world.
Two days later …
Nov. 6 — The prestigious California Clean Tech Open awarded ElectraDrive a Transportation Award for their invention to electrify existing cars and light trucks. The company’s CEO also offers a succinct and very compelling white paper (recommended reading) on why electric traction outdoes liquid fuels and how to honor people’s ongoing attachment to their cars.
Two weeks later …
Nov. 20 — The Bay Area Big Three — mayors of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose — lined up hybrids around SF City Hall and announced a major investment strategy to turn the region into the Electric Vehicle (EV) Capital of the U.S. Under the nine-point plan, Better Place will provide curbside charging services. Separately, Coulomb Technologies also announced facilities intended for “new and existing alternative fueling stations throughout California for extended range electric vehicles (EREV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and all battery electric vehicles (BEVs).” Both announcements herald the sort of infrastructure needed to help make EVs more commercially viable.
The following day …
Nov. 21 — San Francisco and Los Angeles kicked off dueling weeklong auto shows showcasing what’s in store for 2009. The SF 51st Annual International Auto Show featured hybrid and high-mileage models including AAA Greenlight, a 100+ mpg PHEV from CalCars (committed to having automakers build them) and a 3-wheeled electric Triac from San Jose-based Green Vehicles, balancing aerodynamics with carrying capacity for a 100-mile range on a single charge. The LA Auto Show also presented hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, including a few electric, but the jury chose a “clean diesel” (which some compare to a “low tar cigarette”) as the Green Car of the Year. Other nominees included the BMW 335d, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid, and Smart ForTwo.
Just the other night, I watched two Smart Cars pass each other on the street. Today, a group of Electric Tourists surrounded me on their Segways as I sat on a park bench preparing this recap. A bit later, I caught Chris Paine (Who Killed the Electric Car?) blogging his first week as the excited new owner of a Tesla Roadster.
Whatever happens in Detroit and D.C., California dreaming is becoming a reality.
With a population pushing 40 million and one of the world’s Top Ten economies, California’s emergence as a clean tech powerhouse should help others pick up steam and slow down global warming. Transportation also represents one of the state’s largest employment sectors, so expect more “green collar” jobs.
And more recaps after the New Year. Happy Holidays!
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