Wednesday, April 2, 2008

CARB's Conflict of Interest

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CFCP) have become inseparable. The Green California Summit taking place next week in Sacramento appears to provide one more small example.

As I stated in my testimony before CARB's Zero Emission Vehicle Program meeting last week, to understand the conflict of interest
one need look no further than the CARB homepage, where hydrogen and fuel cells – not ZEVs - receive prominent placement, with no equivalent recognition of battery electrics. The same members of staff that administer the ZEV program and make recommendations to this Board are charged with promoting and administering the hydrogen highway and fuel cell projects. A bias toward one technology is reflected in the titles and job descriptions of many staffers who wrote the recommendation you are considering today that give a fuel cell vehicle more credit than a battery electric vehicle with the same range.
At the upcoming Summit, CARB and the Fuel Cell Partnership share booth #1001. Not in the sense that ZAP and Global Electric are housed at a booth divided into A and B. No. On the floorplan, booth 1001 is simply "CA Fuel Cell Partnership & CA Air Resources Board."

It would be a different matter if this were two government agencies sharing space to save taxpayer money. But this is a government regulatory agency cohabitating with a group dominated by the regulated corporations, including auto manufacturers, energy providers, and fuel cell technology companies.

Ever since Alan Lloyd chaired both CARB and the Fuel Cell Partnership at the time of the disastrous 2003 vote that eviscerated the ZEV Mandate, and perhaps before, something has been fundamentally wrong about the relationship. The mission of CARB's Zero Emission Vehicle program appears to have been corrupted. Once the goal was to bring zero emission vehicles to market, and the result back then was thousands of electric cars on the road. Now CARB is content to shepherd a research program, gambling on technologies - hydrogen and fuel cells - that with every passing day disappear further over the horizon. This relationship jeopardizes achieving California's clean air, carbon and petroleum reduction goals and it is time for the legislature to look into it.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hate to see my taxpayer dollars being wasted on a research project called Fuel Cells. CARB has completely lost track of its main mission: To clean up the air. Now.

Anonymous said...

CARB, They seem to stand in the way more than enable. How again do they serve the public interest?
Shell Oil is building a hydrogen service station here in west Los Angeles at Santa Monica Blvd. and Federal. The hydrogen generator in on the roof providing some extra C02 for the community. But their pollution is legal. The State has given hydrogen refueling stations a 5 year grace period to pollute as much as they need to. And what do we know about temporary rules? They seem to be renewed forever because the public forgets about them and no one in power advertises their renewal.
No one talks enough about making hydrogen. The wast of energy it takes and how dirty it is.

Anonymous said...

Isn't one of CARB's objectives to reduce the impact on the environment of auto emissions in addition to making sure Californians can breath?

Water vapor is the primary green house gas, even more prevalent than carbon dioxide. Hydrogen cars such as the BMW Hydrogen 7 emit water vapor. So that vehicle contributes to global warming.

There is no good solution for producing the vast amounts of hydrogen needed for hydrogen vehicles that does not consume large amounts of electricity.

Electric vehicles do not produce any emissions when in operation and if charged from wind, solar, hydro, or even nuclear do not cause green house gasses to be produced by power generation.

So how does CARB justify pushing hydrogen cars and discouraging electric cars when that decision doesn't have technical merit? It doesn't have to because its decisions are political, not based on technology, and one would suspect driven by the auto industry lobbyists.

Yanquetino said...

Bulls-eye, Marc! Evidently CARB stands for "Covertly Assuring Refinery Bucks." The ONLY reason anyone would favor hydrogen over electricity would be so that someone (guess who?) can still make huge profits as the sole provider of energy for transportation.

The oil magnates know better than anyone that crude is running out, and they want to be in a position to SELL us hydrogen as an alternative when that happens. Heaven forbid that we should all simply install solar panels on our roofs and drive for free! Those folks at CARB must have some pretty greasy palms, if you ask me.

As I mentioned in a previous post, CARB simply needs to mandate that all dealers for the major car manufacturers have at least one ZEV in their showrooms and another on their lots to test-drive by a given deadline, say, 2012. If not... the state revokes the dealers' licenses until they comply.

The government should NOT be favoring one technology over another in any way, shape, or form. After all, the goal is supposed to be to clean the air through the use of ZERO-emission vehicles, no matter which technology can accomplish this sooner rather than later.

Mandate ZEVs in the showrooms, set a dealine, then let the best technology win! Period.

Yanquetino said...

Marc:

I was so shocked to read your post about the hydrogen connections within CARB that I decided to do a bit of checking myself. What I have found so far has shocked me even more.

The board member right next to Mary Nichols, the designated "Automotive Related member," is Professor Daniel Sperling, who is the founding Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. On the surface, those credentials seem like a logical choice for CARB, but there is much more to Dr. Sperling's background than meets the idea in his brief biographical sketch.

For example, in 2006 he received the Robert M. Zweig Public Education Award of the National Hydrogen Association. In 2005 he gave briefings to both the U.S. Senate and the Congress on behalf of the "Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Caucus." He has served on the NRC/NAE Committee “Future Hydrogen Production and Use,” and chaired Asilomar Transportation and Energy Biennial Conferences on "Hydrogen Transition." In 2004 he co-authored the book "The Hydrogen Energy Transition" (Elsevier Press) and since 2000 he has published no less than 12 articles, reports, and presentations on hydrogen fuel cells and infrastructure. He even engaged in a debate with Dr. Joseph Romm, author of "The Hype About Hydrogen," at PBS.org in August of 2005 (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3210/01-point.html).

Since 2000, Dr. Sperling's Institute of Transportation Studies has published 11 articles on hybrid-electric vehicles and... _91_ on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles! How can one explain such an imbalance? Evidently it is the result of the Institute's extremly influencial "Hydrogen Pathways Program" (http://hydrogen.its.ucdavis.edu/) --of which Dr. Sperling is a co-director.

As an academic myself, I know very well how things work at a so-called "research" university. We would like to think that scholarly studies at such institutions are objective, solely interested in finding the ultimate "truth" about any given subject. In reality, it all depends upon WHO is funding the research. And in the case of Dr. Sperling's "Hydrogen Pathways Program," among its prime sponsors (http://hydrogen.its.ucdavis.edu/sponsor-list) are none other than...

* ConocoPhillips
* Shell Hydrogen
* ExxonMobil
* Chevron
* British Petroleum
* IndianOil
* PetroBras
* Total
* Sempra Energy

As well as...

* General Motors
* Toyota
* Honda
* Nissan
* Subaru

Whooooooops! Surprise, surprise. No bias there, huh?

Is it any wonder, then, that CARB keeps pushing hydrogen-powered cars and alienating EVs? The board is obviously adhering to the "Golden Rule," i.e., those who have the gold make the rules.

I purport that Governor Schwarzenegger needs to revamp the makeup of CARB so that there is balanced representation from both EV and FCE advocates. YOU should be on that board. Or Chelsea Sexton. Or Wally Rippel. Or James Woolsey. SOMEBODY whose livelihood is not being financed by those with vested interests in hydrogen.

Anonymous said...

Is there a basis for suing CARB? We know how craven they are in the face of lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

There are other potential conflicts of interest at CARB.

Stock holdings of Mary Nichols, dated Sept 25, 2007:

www.bayareanewsgroup.com/multimedia/mn/biz/nichols0925.pdf

Notice the divestments.

Whose husband represents EXXON in the Valdez oil spill?

And from

http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/2007/07/schwarzenegger_49.html

Also on the same day, it was announced that Cindy Tuck, was appointed by
the Governor Undersecretary of the California Environmental Protection
Agency. This is the parent agency of the California Air Resources Board.

Her appointment to this position, unlike Nichols, is not subject to
confirmation by the Senate--and for good reason. She was previously
rejected by the Senate for Nichols' position! The San Francisco
Chronicle reported then that: "Before her nomination, Tuck served as a
lobbyist for the California Council for Environmental and Economic
Balance, an industry-backed group that frequently opposed tough
anti-pollution laws."

You can also read what the Coalition for Clean Air had to say about
placing her in this job to: ""enforce” pollution controls that for eight
years she earned a paycheck fighting against." And that was even before
AB 32.

Anonymous said...

I'm disgusted with CARB and Governor Schwarzenegger, who appointed ineffectual Nichols. Im' disappointed with our governor for many more reasons than continuing to pollute our air. They both should be recalled.

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