Lawmakers Want To Limit Fuel Consumption


California legislators want to track the amount of gasoline used by individuals through SB 350. / Jose M. Osorio / TNS

California legislators want to track the amount of gasoline used by individuals through SB 350. / Jose M. Osorio / TNS

News Analysis

By Angel Ramirez

To enforce gas restrictions, regulators now plan to monitor and collect personal driving data.

Senate Bill 350, which was introduced February 24, 2015 and enrolled in September 11, will issue state-mandated on-board data systems to cars enabling regulators to collect and monitor personal driving data, according to the California Drivers Alliance. This will also allow state regulators to penalize motorists who use too much gas or drive too often.

The bill seeks to halve the amount of petroleum used in motor vehicles by 2030. The bill is being supported by Gov. Jerry Brown, who earlier this year called for the state to cut petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent. Other parts of the legislation call for electric utilities to use 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and for buildings to become twice as energy-efficient.

The bill would take gasoline use in the state back to what it was in the 1960s, when California’s population was close to half of what it is today. It would not only help cut greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce the amount of smog that creates unhealthy air above some California cities, including Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Fresno.

Potential buyers of electric cars are worried about the costs. Many electric vehicles remain expensive, though prices have gone down, and the cars are limited in how far they can go without recharging, but that problem is getting easier to solve as battery technology improves.

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As improved fuel efficiency allows Californians to use less gasoline, prices at the pump may fall, according to Darwin Hall, professor emeritus of economics at California State University Long Beach. However, some climate policies are causing the price of gasoline to rise. The state’s cap-and-trade program has increased gasoline prices by a dime a gallon this year, economists estimate.

The bill is expected to have a more difficult time in the Assembly than in the Senate, where it passed with the support of all but two Democrats: Sen. Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton and Sen. Richard Roth of Riverside. Republican lawmakers fear that the bill will cause job losses and economic damage.

The people who back SB350 probably have good intentions in mind but others cannot ignore the flaws of a bill like this, especially in this economy.