The California Air Resources Board (Sacramento, CA) has reached a crossroads in its long-running effort to solve the state's vexing smog problem, the worst in the country. The board was expected to vote on a plan to soften regulations requiring battery-powered, pollution-free cars in the state. Under the proposal, auto makers could produce hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars and low-pollution hybrid vehicles to satisfy much of the state's clean-air requirement.
The proposal to be considered by the air board would nearly eliminate a quota of pollution-free vehicles in favor of more low-emission cars and hybrids that run on gas and batteries. Critics of the proposal before the board note that it would require only 250 fuel cell vehicles in 2008, compared with the 100,000 zero-emission vehicles that would have been required this year under current regulations.