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.

Tesla to sell Roadster in Europe

Governor Schwarzenegger can expect delivery of his $100,000 electric Tesla Roadster within a few months. His pals in the Old World won't have to wait too much longer before they can buy their own, for a cool €100,000 ($156,000.) The Roadster will be sold in Europe beginning in Summer, 2008, CEO Ze'ev Drori has told the Financial Times.

The upstart California auto maker decided to offer its vehicles in Europe for a number of reasons. Favorable tax treatment of electric cars as well as other incentives are among the measures the continent hopes to employ to lower carbon emissions. The weak dollar also makes Europe an attractive market. Although the chassis and body are made in the U.K., with no plans for a right hand drive version the English rich and royal are out of luck.