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Florida Environment Agency Buys Hybrid-Electric Cars

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Florida Environment Agency Buys Hybrid-Electric Cars

Department of Environmental Protection purchases 19 gas-electric hybrids to be used in six DEP districts in Flordia.

Source: Florida DEP [Jul 12, 2002]

TALLAHASSEE – The Department of Environmental Protection is committed to protect, conserve, and restore Florida’s air resources, with the primary goal of protecting public health. DEP’s Division of Air Resource Management has implemented numerous innovative initiatives and has dedicated significant resources to compliance assistance, environmental education, and outreach.

The latest example is the Department’s purchase of 19 gas-electric hybrid vehicles. DEP Secretary David B. Struhs said that he is pleased with the performance of the Toyota Prius hybrid, which is being used in all six DEP districts, one of which he drives himself. Honda Insight is also a significant manufacturer of hybrid vehicles

San Jose Mercury News, July 18, 2002

Car-sharing gains speed

By Truong Phuoc Khánh and Kristen Berry

It can be wrenching, letting go of a car. Some might call it separation anxiety of the personal vehicle kind.

Terry Wilburn, a former solo driver for 30 years, knows well the strong attachment one develops to one's wheels.

When you're used to driving your car everywhere you go,'' said Wilburn, a systems engineer from San Jose,

you become independent and you don't want to give up your car.''

But give it up he did, as have many others. The growing popularity of the share-a-car movement, imported from Europe, has led two car-sharing programs to announce this week they are expanding their rent-a-car-by-the-hour transportation service in the Bay Area.

One is City CarShare, a non-profit organization founded in March 2001 in San Francisco that also has cars for loan in Berkeley and Oakland. Its expansion to Palo Alto this week coincides with Flexcar, the nation's largest car-sharing company, taking over a pilot Palo Alto car-share program. The company, which is based in Seattle, plans to expand to the South Bay.

The concept is simple: You don't need a car 24 hours a day. Borrow one for the time you need it, return it and then let someone else borrow it.

The analogy I like to use is recycling,'' said Neil Peterson, president of Flexcar.

It's a little idea. If each one of us did it, it would have a huge impact.''

Switzerland launched the idea 15 years ago. Overall, the goal is less traffic congestion, less pollution, less energy used. There are still only a handful of car-share programs in this country.

Love of the auto

Clearly you're running against the American ideal: the love of the personal car,'' said John Williams, spokesman for Flexcar.

But membership within the car-sharing community is growing. CarShare is adding about 150 people a month. It now boasts 1,600 members and 60 cars in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. A group of city planners and transportation activists founded City CarShare.

Flexcar, the larger and older of the two, has 5,000 members in Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Washington, D.C.; and Long Beach. Flexcar will add 10 cars to Palo Alto's fleet, putting a total of 25 vehicles at the disposal of commuters and non-commuters alike. Palo Alto's car-share program was called CarLink II, but it was an experimental project slated to end in June. With Flexcar's takeover, the program continues.

Wilburn rides Caltrain from his home in San Jose to work in Palo Alto. At the California Avenue Caltrain station, he hops into a Flexcar, which he has reserved and is waiting in the lot. He unlocks it with his key fob. His company, S.A.P., pays for his and about 25 other workers' participation in the program.

Flexcar has a fleet of 25 Honda Civics in Palo Alto; new gas-electric hybrids by Honda will be added as the program expands to San Jose and throughout the Bay Area.

Transportation needs

In more established sites, such as Seattle, members can sign up for pickups or minivans. Emily Allen, for example, used a Flexcar pickup for her move in Seattle last year. The 32-year-old research scientist bicycles to her job at the University of Washington but signs up for a Flexcar for those holiday trips to visit her boyfriend's family.

John Walker works at a furniture store called Thomas Moser Cabinetmakers, which has a showroom in San Francisco and a warehouse in Oakland. His company often uses the Jetta Wagons from City CarShare to move furniture between the two sites.

The lease was up on my Grand Cherokee, and I didn't really want to buy it, or another car,'' Walker said.

I live in the city. Parking is another expense. CarShare gives us the flexibility of hopping in a car and running our errands. It's been a dream.''

Contact Truong Phuoc Khánh at or (650) 688-7505.

sidebars with details, $30 one-time plus $10/month plus $3.50/hour, 37 cents/mile $25 one-time plus $3.50/hour plus 90 cents/mile (or packages)

It's Easy Being Green

George W. Bush doesn't get it yet. But renewable energy is no longer the stuff of noble visions and pipe dreams: It's available, inexpensive, and increasingly -- normal.

by Bill McKibben July/August 2002 Mother Jones

The more i surveyed my new car, the happier I got. "New car" is one of those phrases that makes Americans unreasonably happy to begin with. And this one -- well, it was a particularly shiny metallic blue. Better yet, it was the Þrst Honda Civic hybrid electric sold in the state of Vermont: I'd traded in my old Civic (40 miles to the gallon), and now the little screen behind the steering wheel was telling me that I was getting 50, 51, 52 miles to the gallon. Even better yet, I was doing nothing strange or difÞcult or conspicuously ecological. If you didn't know there was an electric motor assisting the small gas engine -- well, you'd never know. The owner's manual devoted far more space to the air bags and the heating system. It didn't look gooÞly Jetsonish like Honda's Þrst hybrid, the two-seater Insight introduced in 2000. Instead, it looked like a Civic, the most vanilla car ever produced. "Our goal was to make it look, for lack of a better word, normal," explained Kevin Bynoe, spokesman for American Honda.

And the happier I got, the angrier I got. Because, as the Honda and a raft of other recent developments powerfully proved, energy efÞciency, energy conservation, and renewable energy are ready for prime time. No longer the niche province of incredibly noble backyard tinkerers distilling biodiesel from used vegetable oil, or building homes from earth rammed into tires, the equipment and attitudes necessary to radically transform our energy system are now mainstream enough for those of us too lazy or too busy to try anything that seems hard. And yet the switch toward sensible energy still isn't happening. A few weeks before I picked up my car, an overwhelming bipartisan vote in the Senate had rejected calls to increase the mileage of the nation's new car fleet by 2015 -- to increase it to 36 mpg, not as good as the Civic I'd traded in to buy this hybrid. The administration was pressing ahead with its plan for more drilling and reÞning. The world was suffering the warmest winter in history, as more carbon dioxide pushed global temperatures ever higher. And people were dying in conßicts across wide swaths of the world, the casualties -- at least in some measure -- of America's insatiable demand for energy.

In other words, the gap between what we could be doing and what we are doing has never been wider.

The complete version of this article can be read in the July/August issue of Mother Jones, available on news stands now or through our online single-issue purchase feature

State hopes to pave way with emissions law

Davis says the 'greenhouse gas' bill to be signed today is an 'example for others to follow'

By Chris Bowman -- Bee Staff Writer - (Published July 22, 2002)

Gov. Gray Davis today plans to sign a bill making California the first state to regulate vehicle exhausts linked to global warming -- atmospheric change that threatens to shrink water supplies, raise sea levels and worsen wildfires.

The new law will require automakers to reduce climate-altering gases from cars, minivans, passenger trucks and sport-utility vehicles sold in California, beginning with 2009 models.

Proponents are counting on other states and, perhaps, countries following California's lead in reducing the global threat.

"It is a good beginning and a good example for others to follow," Davis said Friday, confirming his intention to sign the bill.

A June poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows 81 percent of Californians favor the bill.

Automakers and other opponents argue that the changes needed to reduce emissions will render the larger pickups and SUVs unaffordable to many consumers.

State air regulators said they envision rules ranging from smoother-rolling tires that cut friction and gas consumption to accelerated production of the low-polluting hybrid gasoline-electric cars and SUVs.

Proponents contend that most of the changes will improve driving performance and yield fuel savings that will more than offset the extra costs of the pollution controls.

"Time after time California has proven that improving the environment is consistent with improving the economy, and this bill is part of that legacy," said Russell Long, executive director of the Bluewater Network, an environmental group based in the Bay Area that initiated the bill.

The legislation is unprecedented in that it broadens the scope of vehicle emissions regulation beyond pollutants shown to cause direct harm to people, such as cancer-causing diesel soot and smog.

The "greenhouse gas" bill before Davis targets carbon dioxide, methane and other auto emissions that are not hazardous to breathe but are believed by most scientists to trap the Earth's heat, like the glass panels of a greenhouse. This "greenhouse effect" raises the atmospheric temperature, which can lead to changes in sea levels, water supplies, crop production, disease and wildfires.

The legislative debate leading to the bill's slim passage showed how the controversy over global climate change has shifted.

The big oil and coal industry campaigns to block the Clinton administration from signing the international Kyoto treaty to curb greenhouse gases torpedoed the premise that most global warming observed in the past 50 years is caused by human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels in power plants and cars.

In the California debate, by contrast, none of the opposing interest groups -- automakers and dealers, chambers of commerce and the farm lobby -- challenged the evidence of human-induced climate change.

"Most scientists, including some Nobel laureates who will be with us Monday, believe global warming is no longer theory; it is a scientific reality. And the scientific community believes it is urgent that we act," Davis said in announcing bill-signing ceremonies scheduled today in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

That said, the measure by Democratic Assemblywoman Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills was the most contested bill in the legislative session. It cleared the Senate last month by one vote.

In a big-money campaign of broadcast and newspaper ads, opponents cast the bill as a ploy by utopian Sacramento bureaucrats to force Californians out of their coveted SUVs and minivans into smaller, less-safe vehicles.

"I'm scared to death, and you should be too," America's most televised car salesman, Cal Worthington, warned in ads by the California Motor Car Dealers Association.

The only way to lower carbon dioxide exhausts, unlike other vehicle gases, is to cut fuel consumption. That fact led opponents to suggest that air pollution regulators would raise gas taxes, impose fees per miles driven and lower speed limits.

The state Air Resources Board, which regulates auto emissions, does not have the power to impose any such controls. Pavley amended the bill to make that clear.

Much of the media coverage and debate on the bill have focused on its consequences to consumers, not the threat of global warming to California -- much to the frustration of state environmental officials.

"Please, do me a favor," implored state Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Winston Hickox, addressing a press briefing Friday. "Ask something about the consequences to California's economy and its watersheds."

Cal-EPA officials explained how a slight rise in the Earth's temperature would shrink the Sierra snowpack, a critical source of California's water supplies.

"I don't understand why there aren't a whole lot of people in the Central Valley that aren't seriously concerned about this problem and its consequence to them rather than worrying about whether they can buy a pickup in six years," Hickox said.

Opponents argued it was foolhardy for a single state to try to control a planetary problem at the expense of its consumers.

The bill's supporters -- including many cities, municipal water and power utilities and green-minded entrepreneurs -- make no pretense that the California mandate alone will have any measurable effect on global warming.

The state generates less than 1 percent of the world's human-generated carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

California, however, has pioneered several automotive emission controls, such as unleaded gasoline and catalytic converters now standard in the United States and other developed countries.

"Some members of some industries view these regulations in California as a cancer -- if you don't kill it here, it will spread throughout the country," said James Boyd, former executive director of the air board and a Davis appointee on the state Energy Commission.

"That explains the viciousness of the campaign against the bill," Boyd said.

Hickox said some Northeast states have indicated they would put in bills similar to California's.

The California bill directs the state air board to adopt by 2005 regulations that achieve "the maximum feasible reduction of greenhouse gases emitted by passenger vehicles." It does not numerically set the amount of greenhouse gas reduction to be achieved, nor does it specify how to attain it.

The air board, composed of 11 appointees of Davis and former Gov. Pete Wilson, would make those determinations. Board officials said they would hold extensive public hearings and consultations with auto industry and environmental representatives.

The regulations would not take effect before 2006, giving the Legislature a year to amend the law if it wishes.

Though automakers and dealers vehemently opposed the legislation -- and nearly killed it -- state officials predicted the industry will end up touting the environmental controls in sales pitches, much as air bags are promoted today.

"Unfortunately, there is a sad history of denial by the auto industry of the ability to produce (pollution-cutting) technology that has proven to be not true when the rubber meets the road," Boyd said.

About the Writer

The Bee's Chris Bowman can be reached at (916) 321-1069 or .

Bee staff writer Julia Ishida contributed to this report.

State's air law to steer nation

Automakers fear spread of car emissions policy

Mark Martin, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Sacramento -- With the stroke of a pen Monday, Gov. Gray Davis will commit car- loving California to a historic seven-year campaign to make the state's enormous auto market greener.

Davis plans to sign a bill that will make California the first state to force automakers to curb greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles. The legislation could spark similar efforts in other states and in Congress, putting pressure on President Bush to change what many environmentalists view as a go-slow approach to addressing global warming.

The bill Davis will sign is one of the simplest and most hard-fought laws to emerge from the state Capitol this year. It directs state air regulators to enact measures by 2009 to cut vehicle emissions of gases like carbon dioxide and hydrofluorocarbons. The law doesn't say how or by how much -- that's up to regulators.

But many say even that vague directive is monumental.

"It's a very big deal, even if all it says is this is something we should talk about now and do something about seven years from now," said Daniel Kammen, a professor of energy resources at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy.

The new law gives the 11-member state Air Resources Board until Jan. 1, 2005, to come up with a plan. Lawmakers will have a year to review it; carmakers would have to implement changes in their 2009 models.

Automakers vow to frame the coming debate as an environment-versus- economics battle. Environmentalists, Davis officials and many academics, however, say technological innovation can provide reduced vehicle emissions without adding thousands of dollars to the price of a new car.


The board's work will certainly have a global audience and, most believe, a large national impact. California accounts for 13 percent of the nation's auto sales and is also the only state that is allowed by federal law to ratchet up air quality standards. Other states are permitted to follow California's lead.

"We'll show leadership, we'll test technologies in the marketplace and we'll set examples that others are sure to follow," said Winston Hickox, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, noting that past California regulations ushered in national standardization of everything from unleaded gasoline to the catalytic converter.


What new rules will mean for consumers remains a hot argument.


The air board will probably consider hundreds of options, ranging from requiring high-tech transmission systems that increase the efficiency at which engines burn gasoline to better seals on air-conditioner systems, which release hydrofluorocarbons.

Forcing more hybrid electric-gasoline engines like those in the Toyota Prius also is a possibility.

Automakers who fought the bill say most of the ideas will either mean more costs to consumers or less-safe vehicles.

"The technologies all have trade-offs," said Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.


Bergquist said automakers are considering fighting the law's implementation by bringing a referendum to the November ballot asking voters to overturn the measure.

The industry has a tight timeline to bring about a referendum, and Bergquist said the industry may simply work overtime in California during the two-year hearing process to keep consumers abreast of the process. A $5 million media campaign to defeat the bill, AB1493, nearly paid off for carmakers, as the measure squeaked out of the state Assembly by one vote.

"We would certainly participate and let California drivers know what is being discussed," promised Bergquist.


But environmentalists are also working hard to deliver their message: Automakers are already complying with a European Union agreement to cut vehicle emissions, so manufacturers can do the same in America without dramatic changes in what we drive and how much cars cost.

"This is not rocket science, and it doesn't take a lot of new invention," said Roland Hwang, a senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Hwang drove a Ford Explorer SUV to Sacramento last week to show reporters various tweaks the company could make to ensure even a large vehicle is less polluting.

Hwang and state environmental officials are quick to point out that carmakers have always fought new regulations with the argument that costs will skyrocket. Cries that tougher tailpipe emissions standards enacted in the 1990s would add $800 to vehicle costs have only added about $80, Hwang said.


The California legislation, plus a recent federal government report that concluded the planet was getting hotter, has environmentalists excited that U. S. politicians may begin to enact changes in state and national policies. A nonpartisan poll found 81 percent of Californians favored the auto emissions bill.

Last week, a group of 11 Democratic attorneys general -- including Bill Lockyer of California -- sent a letter to President Bush pressing for strong federal measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions. And a New York lawmaker announced that he would introduce a vehicle emissions bill modeled after California's.

Bush last year refused to commit to the international Kyoto Protocol, which calls on the United States to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. He instead has proposed industries reach voluntary emission reductions.

"Bush is really starting to look out of step on global warming," UC Berkeley professor Kammen said.

Coupled with Congress' rejection this year of legislation to boost fuel economy standards for cars, states like California have to make the first move to address the biggest environmental threat of the new century, Davis said.

"I would prefer Washington take the lead. In the absence of that, we have no choice but to do our part."

E-mail Mark Martin at

Tailpipe emissions law fueling further debate

Gov. Davis will sign California's greenhouse gas bill today; automakers say it'll drive up the cost of cars

By Andrew LaMar and Mike Taugher


SACRAMENTO - Gov. Gray Davis will sign groundbreaking legislation today that will make California the first state in the nation to order automakers to lower tailpipe emissions believed to contribute to global warming.

For environmentalists, who have unsuccessfully lobbied Congress for years to boost fuel efficiency standards, the measure represents a gigantic victory they hope will spur other states to follow.

For the auto industry, the new law is an unwanted regulation it fought hard to defeat, and carmakers say it will reduce consumer choice and increase costs.

For Davis, the troubled Democratic incumbent seeking re-election this year, California's landmark greenhouse gas bill provides a valuable weapon he can use against his opponent, Republican Bill Simon Jr. (A recent poll conducted by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California showed 81 percent of those surveyed favor the measure's objective.)

When Davis pens his name to AB1493 this afternoon in San Francisco, auto executives, government officials and environmentalists around the world will take notice, and the debate will begin in the Golden State about what to do and how far to go to cut greenhouse gases coming from vehicles.

The legislation does not specify what carmakers must do but instead leaves that to the Air Resources Board to determine. The board must draft proposed regulations by 2005, and they cannot apply to automobiles manufactured before the 2009 model year.

"I know some will say the sky is falling, but, my friends, the sky is not falling, it is just getting cleaner," Davis said Friday. "The one thing we didn't want to be in this legislation is prescriptive. The goal is to get the job done, to make the air cleaner while still providing a wide range of consumer choice."

So what can the Air Resources Board do? To make the measure more palatable to lawmakers, the Davis administration spelled out in the legislation what it can't do: The air board can't lower speed limits, set weight restrictions, ban particular types of vehicles, or tax vehicles, fuel or miles traveled.

Davis said he envisions the board establishing an overall standard for vehicles sold in California, an average reduction in greenhouse gases that each automaker can meet however it chooses. In addition, the companies can earn credits for lowering greenhouse gas emissions at their plants in other parts of the world.

Air pollution experts and environmentalists say automakers can likely meet the new standards by employing techniques and technologies already in use, as they have done in Japan and Germany.

To increase fuel efficiency and thereby lower the amount of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide released into the air by popular heavy vehicles, such as sport utility vehicles, automakers can use more advanced tires with less road friction, install four valves per cylinder instead of the two common in sport utility vehicles, or change to variable transmissions.

Also, manufacturers could add bigger batteries to power all interior functions, enhance aerodynamic design or improve valve timing.

"These are things that are on cars right now," said Jerry Martin, a spokesman for the Air Resources Board. "The only thing we're asking them (automakers) to do is to put them on California cars. We're not asking them to put on anything new."

Auto industry representatives, though, say it isn't that easy. Eron Shosteck, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said the markets in Germany and Japan, where cars are smaller and distances driven shorter, can't be compared to California. The alliance is a trade association representing all the major automakers except for Honda.

In California, gas is much cheaper, and consumers want large, powerful vehicles that can travel great distances, Shosteck said. The technology can present problems. Lower-friction tires, for instance, means sacrificing the handling and all-weather traction of a vehicle.

"Either the technology is being used or if it is not being used, there's a very good reason," Shosteck said. "To believe any auto company is not using every technology conceivable is to believe that this industry is not fiercely competitive. This is the largest manufacturing industry in the country, and it is the most competitive."

But the carmakers' complaints ring hollow with environmentalists and regulators, who cite the industry's opposition to government requirements for seat belts, air bags and initial smog equipment. In the spring, the auto industry spent millions of dollars advertising on TV and radio against the global warming bill.

"It's a question of political will," said Craig Noble, a spokesman for the National Resources Defense Council, a group that advocated for the measure. As for the auto industry, he said: "There's certainly a historical resistance to regulation."

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