"This large fleet of polluting vehicles form a big barrier in the state's effort to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions as required by law," Rohrs writes, citing a report by the Next Generation think tank, based in San Francisco. It estimates that 15 percent of California's cars produce half the state's air pollution.
Many of those cars are in the rural, agricultural Central Valley and San Joaquin Valley, "where a large percentage of the low-income residents can't afford electric vehicles or have no public transportation systems," Rohrs writes.
"We are huge supporters of the electric vehicle program and public transportation programs and all the efforts on high speed rail," said Kate Gordon, Next Generation's vice president of climate and energy. "But the state has missed a huge portion of the population -- those who are car-dependent and non-urban. They should also get access to safe, clean and efficient cars." She said the state should help such households buy cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles. (Read more)