California has the worst air quality in the nation, boasting 10 out of the 25 cities most polluted by short-term particle pollution. In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) unanimously approved new emissions rules for cars and light trucks on January 31, 2012. The mandate requires an increase in contemporary zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) sold in the state from 4% to 15% by 2025. ZEVs include battery-electric, fuel-cell cars, and plug-in hybrids.
- Making ZEVs account for 1 in 7 of all new cars sold in California;
- A reduction of 52 million tons of greenhouse gases by 2025, the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road for a year;
- Promoting a cumulative reduction of more than 870 million metric tons of greenhouse gases by 2050.
Air quality is an issue in rural areas like Mammoth Lakes, CA just as it is in large metropolitan areas or concentrated urban centers like Istanbul and Los Angeles, CA. The Town of Mammoth Lakes, in coordination with the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (GBUAPCD), continually monitors the local air quality. Air quality worsens during the winter months when surface inversions are more common. An inversion in the air temperature keeps cooler air closer to the earth’s surface while the warm air rises. The warm air above the cool air acts as a lid, trapping pollutants from cars and wood stoves. Weather conditions, which contribute to poor air quality, include calm winds, clear skies, and long nights.
In a community such as Mammoth Lakes, CA, which endures long winter seasons and experiences tourist influxes of up to 30,000 visitors at a time, air quality is an important issue. Furthermore, the Town of Mammoth Lakes has restricted the installation of any new wood or pellet stoves that are not EPA Phase II certified. Community organizations have even secured grant-funding to replace hundreds of old wood stoves free of charge on a first-come-first-serve basis. The effort to promote EPA certified wood stoves, along with CARB’s new ZEVs initiative, will greatly impact air quality in the Eastern Sierras.
Do you think the government should require dealerships to provide the option of zero-emissions vehicles? Does it take government intervention to promote air quality policy at the consumer level? What community or environmental non-profit approaches to improve air quality do you know of?
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