Sunday, July 29, 2007

Is GM Playing Games with the Volt?

As I've blogged previously, I want to believe as much as the next guy that the Volt - GM's announced plug-in hybrid - is real. I believe enviros have spent way too much time pushing for higher CAFE standards and ignored alternative methods of getting clean cars on the road. The enviros gave up on electric cars, let the automakers and California off the hook just as the cars were proving themselves viable and popular. Sierra Club, UCS and NRDC should have been indicted along with CARB and Big Oil in the film Who Killed the Electric Car? The ZEV mandate offered a way to get plug-in cars - zero-emission, zero-petroleum, zero-carbon producing cars - on the road outside the CAFE protocol.

Now the shoe is on the other foot. GM wants us to believe they are serious about the Volt, but continue to fight over CAFE. They tell us they will produce the Volt in serious volume. Serious volume is enough to significantly effect their fleet average. If they are serious about the Volt, they've got no reason to fight efforts to raise CAFE. Edmunds Inside Line reports Chevrolet Volt Goes to Washington To Underline GM's Anti-CAFE-Increase Argument.

Joe Romm asks the question on Grist Is the Chevy Volt just more GM greenwashing?.

I'd like to see enviros point out that CAFE can be achieved with plug-in cars.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Top Climate Scientist on Lessons Not Learned from Electric Car Debacle

Dr James Hansen is perhaps the top climate scientist in the country. From his post at NASA he warned Congress and us what's up with global warming long ago. There are some lessons we need to learn as we are inundated with adverts about "clean coal," if we are not to get snookered as enviros did over the electric car.
California had a regulation that would have required automobile manufacturers to produce a small percentage of cars without emissions by such-and-such date, and a larger percentage later. Automakers despised this rule, and decided that they had enough clout to ignore it, arguing that it was impractical. Environmentalists seemed to conclude that they were overmatched. Rather than go to the mat, they decided to play ball with the automakers, to try to work with them, accepting promises that the automakers would do everything that they could to improve vehicle efficiencies and reduce emissions. [emphasis added]

The glee with which the automakers tracked down the trial electric cars that they had produced, and crushed the cars into small cubes, must have been palpable. Profit margins on large SUVs were much bigger. Automakers soon forgot their promises about better gas mileage, instead using technical efficiency improvements to make vehicles bigger and accelerate faster.
Read the full email at Joe Romm's blog Climate Progress.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Let My People Convert! - The A123 Challenge

Les Goldman wants you to convert (your hybrid.) Easy as 123. So he proposed at the California Air Resources Board ZEV workshop on Tuesday.

An ARB ZEV meeting is ordinarily a predictable affair. What began as a simple program requiring an ever increasing percentage of Zero Emission vehicles (read electric cars), has become mired in cumbersome bureaucratic complications. Acronymphia is not a sexual disease. (Look it up.) ZEV, SULEV, PZEV, ATPZEV, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Type I, II, III, and on and on. Tuesday's workshop was not so different. They are contemplating Silver+ and Type IV ZEVs. Uggh.

Unfortunately, everyone recognizes that there is no coming down from this byzantine construction. Simplify is the mantra, but unachievable. Now, to add some further complication, everyone's got religion on plug-in hybrids. Many, including electric advocates, some enviros and ARB staff, (even some cars makers, it would seem) want to figure new ways to use the regs to bring plug-in hybrids to market quickly due to their near term benefits, commercialisability and pathways plug-ins offer to true ZEV. (Add more batteries as they become cheaper and more energy-dense, dump the engine; or, for the more fantasy-minded and those receiving compensation, add hydrogen fuel cell and drop the engine.)

But PHEVs are inherently the most complicated of all options. A plug-in hybrid, one could say, simply integrates electric drive into a car with internal combustion. However, there are innumerable ways to do it. Parallel, serial, blended, just for starters. Even the Prius and Civic Hybrid are quite different. ARB could spend a year in conversation with stakeholders to figure out regs and credits for new OEM plug-in hybrid cars.

A123 has an idea to cut through the difficulty of getting OEMs to make cars. Les Goldman, A123's lobbyist, presented the outline of a proposal that could be a win-win-win and get cars on the road quickly. They've been converting some cars back east, working out the kinks. Lately Goldman has been driving one around DC, meeting with policy makers and pushing for consumer incentives for hybrid conversions. (See my 7/12 post Plug-in Hybrid Bills in Congress Scare Auto Makers) With the addition of the A123 battery module, a Prius gets between 125 and 175 mpg. They are beginning to do crash testing, and will meet emission requirements, in pursuit of a fully legal, compliant vehicle. Throw the ZEV mandate into the mix, and maybe we've got something.
  • Use the existing and growing base of hybrids, offer kits to authorized installers, and give ZEV credit to the original manufacturer in exchange for not killing the car's warranty.
  • Hybrid drivers in California could finally actually get their hybrid converted.
  • ARB could finally take some credit for cars with true ZEV miles once again on the road without depending on the ever-resistant, crusher-happy automakers.
  • A123 gets to sell a lot of batteries without having to wait for the automakers to place orders of the magnitude they promise "once the batteries are ready."
The few automakers in the room remained poker-faced, but it must be an intriguing proposition. They get credits (and credit) and don't have to do much of anything but watch their hybrid improve on someone else's dime. Now that Toyota's got it's own 8 mile (not 6 as I previously reported, thank you sk) all-electric range NiMH Prius being openly test in Japan, and soon here in California, (see Toyota's Plug-in Prius: Out of the Pod, Into the Podcast) and virtually every auto maker making noise about eventually coming out with some sort of PHEV, this proposal could prime the pump, test the waters, prove the pudding. Or not. Let the people convert!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Toyota's Plug-in Prius: Out of the Pod, Into the Podcast

Toyota's plug-in Prius comes out of the closet. No translation needed. Take a look.

Main Specifications of Toyota Plug-in HV
Vehicle Name TOYOTA Plug-in HV
Length / Width / Height 4,445 / 1,725 / 1,490mm
Weight 1,360kg
Seating capacity 5 persons
Performance in
electric vehicle mode Cruising range 13km in the 10-15 Japanese test cycle
Maximum vehicle speed 100km/h
Engine Displacement 1,496cc
Maximum output 56kW(76PS) / 5,000rpm
Maximum torque 110N-m (11.2kg-m) / 4,000rpm
Motor Type AC synchronous motor
Maximum output 50kW(68PS) / 1,200 — 1,540rpm
Maximum torque 400N-m(40.8kg-m) / 0 — 1,200rpm
Secondary battery Type Nickel-metal hydride
Capacity 13Ah (6.5Ah x 2)
Rated voltage 202V
Overall system Maximum output* 100kW (136PS)
Voltage 202 — 500V
Battery charging Power source Household electrical power
Charging time 1 — 1.5hrs (200V), 3 — 4hrs (100V)
*Based on TMC calculations; output that the system can achieve using engine power and electric motor power (electric motor power is dependent on battery power)

Ford in the PHEV Race, too?

MSNBC and NBC News have report on plug-in hybrids, focusing on the Volt. But there's some news about Ford, too, buried within.
Ford is also in the plug-in game and could get to the finish line first. It is already testing two plug-in hybrids, [Ford's Sue] Cischke told the Chicago Tribune, and it expects to deliver the first road-ready vehicles for testing in California by 2009.
Hat tip to Earl Killian

Plug-in Hybrid Race on as Toyota Tests NiMH PHEV; A123 Challenges CARB to Authorize Conversions

From today's NY Times
Toyota to Test Plug-In Hybrid, Rivaling G.M.
Toyota said it would provide prototype versions of plug-in hybrid vehicles to researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and the University of California, Berkeley....The prototype plug-in hybrids will be powered by two oversize packs of nickel-metal hydride batteries

Yesterday, in Sacramento A123Systems, the battery manufacturer being used by GM for the Vue and Volt, challenged CARB not to wait for OEM plug-ins. It want CARB to authorize aftermarket conversions of hybrids with its Lithium batteries.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dodd forsees federal fleet of hybrids and electric cars

YouTube Democratic Debate Mon Night at the Citadel:
QUESTION: Hi, I'm Stephanie. We're in the Bay area, in my bathroom, because this is one of the places where I use compact fluorescent light bulbs. I use these to decrease my personal energy use, and I hear politicians talking about alternative energy to delay -- to decrease our energy impact as a whole.

So my question for you is, how is the United States going to decrease its energy consumption in the first place? In other words, how will your policies influence Americans, rather than just using special light bulbs, to do this?
DODD: Anderson, there are a number of things. The 50-mile-per- gallon standard is something I've advocated by 2017, that I would push hard for. Entire fleet of federal automobiles would be hybrids or electric automobiles, so we reduce even further out consumption.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Toyota Hot and Cold on Plug-in Hybrids

A month or so ago word was Toyota was postponing the new generation Lithium Prius. That seemed to be a hint that Toyota wasn't moving too quickly on plug-ins. As if to confirm that notion, recently a Toyota spokesman in DC was denigrating plug-in hybrids as Hymotion/A123 and Rob Lowe were making a plug-in splash in Congressman Ed Markey's global warming committee. According to Autos Insider of July 12, 2007
Toyota, which has sold 1 million hybrids worldwide, including 750,000 in the United States, over the last decade, said converting a hybrid risks vehicle fires, and actually increases greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, however, we continue to see more information on Toyota's own prototype plug-in Lithium Prius. Japan's leading newspaper Asahi Shinbun reports "the company will be the first Japanese carmaker to win approval from the ministry for plug-in hybrid tests." Asahi reports:
"Electric vehicles that run only on electricity are said to be more environmentally friendly than hybrid vehicles because they have no emissions and do not use gasoline.

However, the cars can run only short distances before they run out of juice.

Toyota says plug-in hybrids offer the best of both kinds of vehicles."
Although it is clear to me there is great value in "short distance" 75 to 150 mile range all-electric cars such as my RAV4 EV, there is no doubt the market for various plug-in hybrid options would be huge. I look forward to seeing advertisements for plug-in hybrids touting the "best of both worlds" meme. Essentially an acknowledgement that a plug-in hybrid is better all around than the gasoline-dependent hybrids that you can't plug in available today. After all, grid electricity is cleaner and cheaper than gasoline. As soon as Toyota puts to bed its disingenous "and you don't have to plug it in" campaign, we'll know they're serious.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Huckabee: The electric car of the 2008 race

Election blog points us to an unexpected positive and apt analogy to electric cars by a Republican candidate for President. Mike Huckabee, ex-Governor of Arkansas and longshot contender, said in an interview decrying the wasteful spending of his GOP rivals:
“You will not find a more frugal operation than ours and you will also not find a more efficient, better miles per gallon,” said Huckabee, who did not single out any opponents specifically. “If anything, we’ve become the electric car of the 2008 race. We have gotten more for what we have spent.”
Although Huckabee gets it right, the blogger gets it all wrong. From his/her suggestion that the film Who Killed the Electric Car? was aimed at liberals to the comment that the electric car was a massive failure.

I responded:
First off, the film wasn’t aimed at liberals or conservatives. It was aimed at Americans. And it had many certifiable conservatives speaking about the issue, including Frank Gaffney (from the Reagan administration) and Lieberman Democrat ex-CIA director James Woolsey both supporting electric cars for the national security benefits of switching to electrons from petroleum.

Secondly, as battery electric cars are incontestably the most efficient vehicles on the road, Huckabee’s comparison of his lean campaign to an electric car seems apt.

Is Toyota taking the Plug-in Hybrid plunge?

Green Car Congress reports Toyota to Obtain Permission for Public Road Test for Plug-in Prius in Japan.

Plug-in Hybrid Study: Electricity Better

The basic question addressed, which appears on the study homepage ( is this: How would air quality and greenhouse gas emissions be affected if significant numbers of Americans drove cars that were fueled by the power grid?

Simply put, the study found what advocates of electric transportation have long held to be true: as regards greenhouse gases and pollution generally speaking, the worst electricity is still better than petroleum. And the grid is getting cleaner and more renewable every year.

A few highlights below, but the significant question that remains is whether this study will make any difference in the public policy advocated by those who shape our understanding of what's possible and most beneficial. Environmental organization and utilities have long known the benefits of electric transportation, but have been cowed by the auto makers' unwillingness to make grid-connected product. You can dig around the websites of NRDC, UCS and the Sierra Club and come to understand that an electric path would be best for all of us, but their advocacy has not reflected the science. UCS advocates relentlessly for cleaner gasoline vehicles and dismisses plug-ins of all sorts, the Sierra Club strikes deals with Ford to promote a few thousand gasoline-dependent hybrids in exchange for advertising dollars, and the NRDC jumped on the biofuels bandwagon just as the cost of corn ethanol became impossible to ignore. I truly hope we have turned a corner.

The EPRI/NRDC study is an exceedingly detailed assessment using modeling analyses of various scenarios to determine the impact of plug-in hybrids. From the two summaries:
Greenhouse Gases
Researchers drew the following conclusions from the modeling exercises:
•Annual and cumulative GHG emissions are reduced significantly across each of the nine scenario combinations.
•Annual GHG emissions reductions were significant in every scenario combination of the study, reaching a maximum reduction of 612 million metric tons in 2050 (High PHEV fleet penetration, Low electric sector CO2 intensity case).
•Cumulative GHG emissions reductions from 2010 to 2050 can range from 3.4 to 10.3 billion metric tons.
•Each region of the country will yield reductions in GHG emissions.
The use of electricity is an important attribute of PHEVs. Use of electricity reduces both gasoline consumption and emissions—starting emissions, refueling emissions, running emissions and even upstream refinery emissions.
PHEVs have lower GHG emissions in all nine cases than either the conventional or the hybridvehicles, ranging from a 40% to 65% improvement over the conventional vehicle to a 7% to 46% improvement over the hybrid electric vehicle.

Air Quality
Because of the significant reduction in emissions from gasoline and diesel fuel use and because caps are in place for some conventional pollutants for the electric power sector, the study finds that in many regions deployment of PHEVs would reduce exposures to ozone and particulate matter, and reduce deposition rates for acids, nutrients, and mercury.

Overall, the air quality benefits from PHEVs are due to a reduction of vehicle emissions below levels required by current regulation (due to their non-emitting operation in all-electric mode), and because most electricity generation emissions are constrained by existing regulatory caps. Any additional increase in the amount of all-electric vehicle miles traveled or further emissions constraints on the electric sector would tend to magnify these benefits.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

EPRI/NRDC Plug-in Hybrid Enviro Assessment to be Released

The long awaited report assessing the environmental impact of plug-in hybrids undertaken by the Electric Power Research Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council will see the light of day on Thursday morning in Washington DC. Roger Duncan from Austin Energy and Plug-in Partners is participating in the press conference, so the results must be positive. Tony Posawatz, the GM vehicle line director for the Chevrolet Volt is on the press conference line-up as well, so perhaps that's a sign GM means business with the serial hybrid announced earlier this year. I'll report on the details soon as they're available.

GM: Electric Opel by 2010

Thomson Financial reports in Forbes that General Motors Corp unit Opel plans to bring out an all-electric car at the end of 2010. GM's European chief Carl-Peter Forster is said to mention the EV in an excerpt from tomorrow's Auto Motor Sport magazine. He told the magazines that hybrid technology is too costly to use in small cars, suggesting a city car, perhaps too small to be marketed in the US.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Green Autos in the Times: Hybrid Hype, Hydrogen Hooey and Electric Dreams

A number of articles about "green cars" worth perusing in Saturday's New York Times Automotive section. Usually devoted to crass boosterism of America's largest manufacturing industry, these articles still contain a lot of that.

Especially as displayed in Adam B. Ellick and Don Sherman's moronic and facile hydrogen vehicles video shot in the New Jersey field where the Hindenberg met its firey demise. (The Future of Hydrogen: Once a Pariah, Now an Alternative.) Not a mention of where the hydrogen is meant to come from, nor problems with storage. Just a chicken and egg problem according to the makers of this little vid - not acknowledging the million dollar chicken nor the $10/gallon fossil-fuel-derived eggs. Though they do recognize commercialization is at least decades away.

Toyota comes in for a smackdown by Lawrence Ulrich (Conspicuous Consumption With Green Illusions) on it's high class hybrids. Writing about the $121,000 Lexus LS 600h L:
"th[is] hybrid may have set a new standard for automotive hyperbole. Behind its green Teflon shield, the Lexus proved to be just another overstuffed sedan that can barely top 20 miles a gallon."
The meme of the ugly green car gets its own article (Once Frumpy, Green Cars Start Showing Some Flash). Author Phil Patton derides the design of anything "green" that actually hit the market, and suggests beauty in drawing board designs that will never come to showroom. Chris Paine (Who Killed the Electric Car?) is quoted in the leadoff position to suggest even advocates of electric cars understand the product has been too ugly for the masses.

Electric cars get their own piece by Kevin Cameron, (Electric Cars Nearly Ready, but Batteries Are Less So) as the Tesla can't be ignored at this point. After all, rich dudes that read the Times from CEOs to Arnold himself have plunked down $100K. So it is a photo of the Tesla Roadster that graces this article despite its message that electrics remain not ready for prime time because GM and Toyota say so. Despite the imminent release of the Lithium powered Tesla, you have to read to paragraph #15 to find mention of the car. The first 14 paragraphs spread the confusing tale of battery types and energy densities, never mentioning NiMH 140 mile range EV1s (all crushed) or 120 mile range Toyota RAV4 EVs still on the road after over 100,000 miles. The reader is just meant to be left with the impression that Big Auto is still trying but the dang technology just isn't good enough or safe enough or cheap enough to market. The Volt remains a dream, and a new generation Prius (read plug-in) just have to wait for the perfect Lithium battery. Nickel Metal Hydride which successfully powered the great electrics of the decade past and work fine in every hybrid on the road just won't cut it. Just because they say so.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Strange Plug-in Bedfellows Rile Detroit

Big time neo-Con Frank Gaffney and Arnold supporter actor Rob Lowe took their advocacy for plug-in hybrids to Massachusetts liberal Democrat Ed Markey's House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming yesterday. Detroit and it's Congressional defenders are again suggesting that what's good for America will kill Big Auto. It is idiotic if conventional wisdom to suggest anti-corporate crusader Ralph Nader has it in for the automakers, but quite another to label Reaganaut and hardline conservative Gaffney anti-business. The Detroit Free Press story headline tells the tale:
House talk on plug-in cars erupts
Mich. lawmaker warns of demise of U.S. auto industry

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Plug-in Hybrid Bills in Congress Scare Auto Makers

The Detroit News Autos Insider column today is reporting on Congressional efforts to promote plug-in hybrids and the backlash from the automakers. Toyota made the car, the Prius, that made plug-in conversions possible, and now they are trying to rein in the desires unleashed.

Neither CARB incentives nor the efforts of Plug-in Partners have moved the auto makers to produce plug-in hybrids, so conversion efforts are moving along. A123 bought Hymotion and they are producing cars for Google's effort. HybridsPlus and EDrive have converted cars. Calcars continues to work with the Electric Auto Association members to bring a do-it-yourself kit to hybrid owners with moxie.

Legislation proposed in the Senate by Senators Obama, Hatch and Cantwell to offer tax credits to convert hybrids to plug-ins now has its counterpart in Congressman Ed Markey's House bill. The Senate bill is known as the FREEDOM Act ("Fuel Reduction using Electrons to End Dependence On the Mideast Act of 2007"); the House bill the more prosaic "Plug-in Hybrid Opportunity Act of 2007."

Whatever it's called, it's got Toyota in a tizzy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Norwegian Investors Rally to Revived Think Electric Car

The Aftenposten reports (in English) on the success Jan Olaf Willums is having at the helm of the revived Think Global. Many of Norway's tycoons and heirs are making significant investments in the company which is planning production of as many as 10,000 cars by 2009.

My first electric car was a Think City, produced when the company was owned by Ford. This "smarter than Smart" city car was a revelation to me when I leased it in 2001. By then, every other maker of a ZEV Mandated electric car had leased all their cars and were plotting their destruction rather than making any more to meet the demand. Toyota, Honda and GM were dismantling their electric efforts, but Ford seemed to be making a last stab at a viable electric program called Think Mobility. The little car demonstrated to me that electric vehicles were ready for prime time.

Ford ultimately followed the lead of the other automakers, and began to destroy the cars in 2004. Ford had promised the cars would be returned to Norway at leases' end to be sold. Waiting lists were forming there. When California Th!nk drivers found out the cars now would be crushed, their protests revived the movement for electric cars. One such protest is documented in the film Who Killed the Electric Car? and the story is told as well in Sherry Boschert's book Plug-in Hybrids.

Nothing would please me more than seeing the Think City again on San Francisco streets.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Arnold Flexing for Flex-Fuels; Fouls Air & Guzzles More Gasoline

As I read in the San Jose Mercury News about California's flex-fuel fleet fiasco. a near silent electric trolley bus passes by my window on Haight St in San Francisco, an old technology tried, true, and spurned by the environmental "experts" of the present and recent past.

The state policy of purchasing flex-fuel cars has actually increased petroleum consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and smog in California. Alas, for better or worse, there is still only one E85 station in the state, nowhere near the bulk of the cars the Schwarzenegger administration has bought with our money.
...the flex-fuel vehicles are actually chugging out more smog and greenhouse gases than many vehicles in the state's old fleet - as much as 2,000 extra tons annually.
As a result, energy experts question whether the administration's zest to "look green" has come at the expense of real environmental progress.
Because environmental organizations have dropped the ball for so long on the actual costs and benefits of the various "green" transportation alternatives, policy makers and the public at large are at the whim of the advertising power of big auto and big oil. Go Yellow to go green, says GM. And the NRDC promotes biofuel with grain coming out of a gas pump.

It's cheap to make a car flex-fuel. So as long as it seems a green option, it's a win-win for the little green giant of the Republican party and the sclerotic giant of the auto industry. And probably for NRDC's pocketbook, too.

It seems the car makers are willing to make cars without fuel infrastructure, especially if they can get some green cred and government credits. However they still do everything to postpone the day they build cars to run on to the infrastructure we've already got for zero emission cell phones and ipods. Of course I'm speaking of electricity.
"This is nothing but self-serving propaganda," said [Tyson] Slocum, whose Washington D.C.-based group is the largest consumer advocacy group in the nation. "Government is engaging in a campaign to deliberately mislead people. They are making claims that the government is taking the lead on greening our transportation system, when in reality nothing has changed."
Scientific analysis over the years, whether by government or enviro organizations, has always shown that nothing can reduce petroleum usage or toxic emissions as much as a switch to grid electricity into battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars. understood it after a few months study. See to get a sense of a comprehensive vision of clean energy into clean cars.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

ex-CARB Chair Sawyer's Open Letter to Schwarzenegger

Robert Sawyer, recently fired as Chair of the California Air Resources Board by Gov. Schwarzenegger, has handed his letter to the Governor to the press. Take a look. Among the accomplishments during his tenure, Sawyer cites "review of the Zero Emissions Vehicle program and instructions to ARB staff for modifications to encourage the production and use of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.." What will happen to the ZEV mandate review process as the newly appointed Chair Mary Nichols comes up to speed will be watched closely. But it the critical aspects of Sawyer's letter that is drawing attention. Worldwide articles have appeared tarnishing Arnold's green luster, and this letter will not serve to stanch that loss of reputation.

• "My single regret is that is that you and I never once met during the past 18 months to discuss any of the critical air quality or global warming issues facing California."

• "Governor Schwarzenegger, your staff has interjected itself in a manner that has compromised the independence and integrity of the board."

• "Press releases from the Governor’s staff, which are contrary to reality or truth, are a disservice to you and to the people of California."

• "I urge you to hire a personal science advisor who can counsel you on the science and technology of air pollution and global warming and who understands the economics and law of these issues.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Ford and Edison set to announce plug-in hybrid venture

Ford Motor Co and Southern California Edison, provider of electricity to 13 million, are set to announce something Monday relating to plug-in vehicles. Reuters has a first report.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Despite the propaganda, waiting for plug-ins

Despite the Prius ads pushing an anti-plug-in message, many are waiting for a hybrid that can plug in to cleaner, cheaper domestic electricity.

Daily Economy Fuel Tip surveys why people don't buy hybrids now.

49% of respondents stated that hybrid cars are too expensive
29% of respondents stated that they were waiting for plug-in hybrid vehicles
11% of respondents stated that they just are not interested in buying a hybrid vehicle
9% of respondents stated that hybrid cars are too small
2% of respondents stated that they already owned a hybrid car

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

New Chair for CARB

Just as Arnold was getting some seriously negative press in England questioning his commitment to the environment, he goes and appoints Mary Nichols, environmental lawyer and Democrat, CARB Chair. Perhaps I'll be eating some crow in the upcoming months. This could be very interesting.

Schwarzenegger taps Nichols to lead Air Resources Board

Schwarzenegger's Green Cred Fading with CARB Caos

The CARB mess is taking the shine off Arnold Schwarzenegger's supposed environmentalism. The firings and their implication has gone international. Over 130 stories, from LA to the UK, are reporting on the situation. The governor and his people are contradicting each other and the recently "fired" are releasing documents and voice mails to prove their good intentions and reveal the governor's meddling in CARB's attempts to regulate diesel exhaust and greenhouse gases. No one really wants to mess with Arnold, so the recently fired blame staff and not Arnold, but in cases like this, we all know the fish stinks from the head.

The LA Times headline, Mixed messages in the air, The governor's actions often work against his tough talk on pollution tells the story. New rules contemplated by CARB are angering the construction industry.
The officials argued that the new rules, years in the making, were too tough on the construction industry — which is a major Schwarzenegger donor.

The departed air board officials said they were frustrated by administration meddling in both the diesel construction equipment crackdown and the implementation of landmark legislation the governor signed last year to curb global warming.

It is not the first time the governor has made bold promises on the environment while his administration dragged its feet behind the scenes. Schwarzenegger has vetoed bills that would put new taxes on polluters, spur the development of alternative fuels and help clean the air. He has accepted $1 million in campaign cash from the oil industry, and he had threatened to veto the global warming bill unless it was made more business-friendly.
From the San Jose Mercury News:
The executive director of the California Air Resources Board resigned Monday, saying the governor's office had made it impossible for her to do her job by interfering with the implementation of the state's landmark global warming law.
"I think they're trying to control it, and they don't have a very cogent vision for what's needed," said Catherine Witherspoon, who has managed the agency since 2003.....

She said Sawyer was fired because two top Schwarzenegger aides—Susan Kennedy, the chief of staff, and Dan Dunmoyer, the cabinet secretary—wanted him to go more slowly in implementing the global warming law.
"It's utterly mystifying," she said. "They're firing quality people who know how to do the job, emeritus people with 50 years' experience."
Adam Mendelsohn, Schwarzenegger's communications director, has said just the opposite was true and that it was Sawyer who was moving too slowly in implementing the law. He said Sawyer was unable to lead the agency and was "scrambling at the last minute" to find ways to implement AB32.
But on Monday, Sawyer released the transcript of a voicemail he said he received from Dunmoyer asking him to adopt fewer so-called early action items under the global warming law—in other words, to go more slowly in implementing it.
No longer on the administration payroll, Sawyer yesterday said:
"The fundamental difficulty is there really is no one in the [governor's] office who understands the science, the technology, the economics or even the legal aspects of air pollution control," he said. "Now is the time for the governor's staff to get out of the way and let the professionals do the job."
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez will be holding hearings in the Assembly. But he seems to have a sense of what's happening on "I" Street.
"It's been pretty clear to me that the administration has been putting undue pressure on the leadership of the Air Resources Board," Nunez said during a Monday news conference. "The administration was tying their hands behind their back."
Additional independent reporting: Contra Costa Times (MediaNews): Nunez seeks inquiry into emissions board claim As reported here, Arnold says:
"I've heard people whining. But we've got to be extremely sensitive toward businesses here."
Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, who served on CARB for 10 years:
"I served for three governors," he said, "and I never saw this level of interference."
San Francisco Chronicle, page 1: Governor accused of playing politics on warming rules
"The governor has made his name across the world as the jolly green governor, and now we have the regulators saying his inner circle has pressured them to go slow because the big industries don't want us to go too quickly," said Jamie Court, president of the Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights, a consumer watchdog group.

Monday, July 2, 2007

CARB Massacres Continue

Another air board official leaves

Catherine Witherspoon, longtime Executive Director of CARB has quit. It had seemed the Governor wanted Sawyer to fire her last week. When Sawyer refused, he got canned. Now Witherspoon says the Gov's cool, but the folks around him don't care about the air. Some weird shit and machievellian games being played up in Sacto. We haven't heard the last of it.

And with Barbara Riordan being put in charge as Chair replacing Sawyer, even if temporarily, there's no hope for a ZEV mandate with teeth. She voted to kill it four years ago and is still singing industry's tune.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

CARB: Sawyer v Governator

It is looking like the Governor's contribution to global warming is a lot of hot air touting his greenness while opposing the slightest additional measure proposed by an actual clean air professional. If the governor fired Sawyer over requiring reflective auto paint, it's hard to believe he would have allowed a reinvigorated ZEV mandate that could bring plug-in hybrids and electric cars to market.

San Jose Mercury News: Air board officials blame Schwarzenegger for weakening smog regs

San Francisco Chronicle: Fired air board head says he tried to keep integrity
He says he lost job for proposing change to reduce emissions

California Progress Report:
The story is murky at best--with the Gov saying Robert Sawyer wasn’t aggressive enough and Sawyer saying it was the Gov. who sabotaged his efforts to make those first global warming regulations stronger and more expansive. I’d put my money on Sawyer’s version as we’ve seen over-and-over again this Governor talking tough but acting like a corporate shill on global warming and other environmental issues he’s supposed to be championing.