Governor Steve Sisolak announced this week his administration would pursue vehicle efficiency standards set by California.
That would mean more electric vehicles would be available for Nevadans to buy – and stricter fuel efficiency limits on gas-powered cars.
The policy would be based on the standards adopted by California. Officials say they’ll reduce air pollution and hopefully, reduce the impact of climate change in Nevada.
"This is really a key step that Nevada needs to take if we're going to start achieving our green gas emission reduction goals and really to improve air quality, which is being threatened with increase vehicles due to increased population in the urban parts of our state," said Greg Lovato, administrator at the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.
Lovato said the governor's announcement this week is just to get the ball rolling on the process which will take more than a year because the new standards have to be evaluated by all the stakeholders involved from car dealers to environmentalists.
If the standards are adopted, they'll be in place for cars sold for 2025.
Lovato said the exact details of how those stricter emission standards will be implemented have not been worked out yet but he expects it to include a combination of incentives and penalties.
Transportation is now responsible for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions in the state because Nevada has been proactive in moving to renewable energy for power generation, Lovato said.
And out of the transportation sector, a majority of the emissions are coming from light-duty vehicles.
"If we're going to start meeting our climate reduction or climate mitigation goals, we're going to need to address this sector," he said, "The good news is there's a lot more details to be worked out but we have to have this tough conversation in Nevada if we're going to be serious about addressing climate change."
There have been some people who oppose the plan simply because it based on California standards. They view it as another 'Californication' of Nevada.
Lovato points out that Nevada has to adopt either federal standards or California standards. And he noted there is room within the standards to make them work for Nevada.
"Nevada finds itself trying to figure out how do we get to where we need to go and we have to look at the tools available and one of the tools is looking at adopting these stricter vehicle emission standards," he said.
Patricia Valderrama is the Nevada Policy Director for Natural Resources Defense Council. She said 14 states have already adopted the tougher standards, which covers about 36 percent of the car market.
She said choosing tougher standards will show carmakers that Nevada is ready for more electric vehicles.
"I think the launch of this Clean Cars Nevada initiative is a kind of signal to automakers and to electric car charging companies that Nevada is a state interested in this kind of technology and in building up these stations and in making these electric car purchases," she said.
Valderrama said some carmakers plan on using the less strict emission standards from the Trump Administration but most see the direction the industry is going.
"Most of the major automakers really see the writing on the wall," she said, "They know that they need to be investing more in electric car technologies in order to stay competitive in the future."
Valderrama said there is a pent up demand for electric vehicles and when more are available in the state more will be sold.
Patricia Valderrama, Nevada Policy Director, Natural Resources Defense Council; Greg Lovato, Administrator, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection
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