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Vermont Joins California in Regulating CO2 from Cars

Vermont on Wednesday joined California in regulating greenhouse gas (notably CO2) emissions from vehicles, becoming the first of six Northeastern states working on the same rules to do so.

Under the rule, one set of GHG standards is to be established for passenger cars, small light-duty trucks, and small SUVs, and another set for large light-duty trucks (up to 8,500 lbs. GVWR) and large SUVS (less than 10,000 lbs. GVWR). Both sets of GHG standards would be gradually phased in between model-years 2009 and 2016. When fully implemented during model-year 2016, new motor vehicles subject to the regulation would be required to emit approximately 30% fewer GHGs than without the regulation.

Vermont’s analysis is that implementing the GHG regulations will cut total fleet emissions in the state from the 2002 baseline by 18% in 2020 (1,488.1 tons of CO2 equivalent) and by 27% in 2030 (2,630.5 tons of CO2 equivalent).

The federal clean air act allows for two sets of rules governing emissions from cars sold in the United States: the California standard and the less-strict federal standard. Vermont followed New York and Massachusetts in 1998 in adopting the California standards.

To date all the Northeastern states which have adopted the California Low Emission Vehicle program (NY, MA, RI, CT, NJ, and VT) have also committed to adopting California’s greenhouse gas emission standards.

Motor vehicle emissions account for approximately 25% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions in the Northeast. Motor vehicle miles traveled are predicted to increase, representing the fastest growing portion of the region’s overall GHG inventory.

(A hat-tip to Jack Rosebro!)




Special standards shouldn't be set for large SUVs. If they can't meet the standards for smaller vehicles, they should cease to exist.

I doubt that these standards are sufficient. To have any real impact, we need to cut CO2 by at least 50%.

The Anonymous Poster

CO2 emissions are pretty much inversely proportional to gas mileage. Limiting CO2 is basically mandating higher MPG. This is not a bad thing IMHO, but I'm amazed they are allowed to do this.

Lance Funston

The momentum from states is growing to adopt the CA standards. If the automakers were smart they would stop moaning and fighting CA in court and start helping to set realistic targets for the industry that could be shared nationally. Otherwise they may end up fighting a many headed hydra of proliferating state proposed mandates on CO2 emmissions even if CA's law ends up getting struck down.

If enough states end up fighting the auto industry in court, the industry may eventually wake up to the fact its cheaper long-term to make more efficient cars and spend less money on lobbyists and lawyer fighting for the right to make gas guzzling dinosaurs that are headed for extinction.


My understanding is that Detroit was trying to fight this in court. They claimed that trying to regulate CO2 was a backdoor way of regulating fuel economy, which in theory only the federal government can do.

I suppose one thing states could do to give peope incentives is to lower the speed limit for fuel inefficient vehicles. Maximum speed 50mph for an SUV. Just watch the demand dry up.

Richard Burton

I suggest that a carbon or CO2 tax be imposed, but that there be a "baseline allowance" like we do with utitilities, and every person or driver be able to buy say 10 gallons a week of fuel with no carbon tax. It could be tied in with drivers licenses, which in Calif already look like credit cards. Insert your driver's license into the pump's machine, and get your 10 gallons tax free.Anything above pays the carbon tax. If you don't want to participate so be it. If you carpool, use whoever's card... And for legitimate business use the baseline could be higher...Is this too simple and reasonable, or am I missing something?


Air Force One averages 0.15 mpg. Is its use considered legitimate business?


I is a backhanded milage control measure and yes it will be struck down sooner or later.


Not completely because different fuels have an effect on carbon emissions, such as ethanol, so even if a car gets low MPG, if it's using E85 the carbon emissions will be lower than almost any vehicle running on gasoline. There are a variety of ways to tackle CO2 regulations that aren't directly linked to MPG and it may be able to exist as such since there are alternatives.

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