Thursday, August 11, 2005

California to proceed with Hybrid HOV restrictions

Despite slight differences between California's law allowing hybrid cars in carpool lanes, the State will proceed with its original plan.

California's law was supposed to take effect Jan. 1 but first needed approval from the federal government. That permission was tucked into the transportation bill.

The state originally planned to wait for clean-air regulators to reconcile the state bill with the federal legislation, which supporters had said could take months. But the state Air Resources Board had time to review the state and federal legislation before Bush's signature, and decided to proceed with the change immediately, said Gennet Paauwe, a spokeswoman for the board.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement that the change was "a common-sense policy" toward reducing air pollution. The state has some of the most polluted regions in the nation.

"The more we can encourage Californians to buy and drive cleaner-air hybrid cars and trucks, and give them some incentive to do so, the better off we will all be," Schwarzenegger said.

Only three hybrid models Toyota's Prius and Honda's hybrid Civic and Insight will be allowed in the lanes. They are the only models that meet the eligibility standards of at least 45 miles per gallon and almost no smog-causing emissions, according to the office of the bill's author, Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Woodland Hills.