California scraps ‘cool cars’ rules

March 26, 2010

California scraps ‘cool cars’ rules

The Detroit News

Washington — California scrapped its "cool cars" rules Thursday, a victory for automakers who had opposed the new requirements.

Under pressure from law enforcement in the state and others, the California Air Resources Board canceled the regulations that were adopted in June and set to be finalized by May 7. The plan aimed to sharply reduce heat in vehicles to in turn lower greenhouse gas emissions.

In a statement, the board noted many groups had raised issues involving performance of electronic devices and public safety. "Instead, the board will pursue a performance-based approach as part of its vehicle climate change program," the board said.

Stanley Young, a board spokesman, said the state will begin a new process to set standards to reduce emissions from air conditioning and provide cooler car interiors.

This month, The Detroit News reported on the criticism from the state’s police chiefs, sheriffs and crime victims advocates. Earlier, the board had it said it planned to change but still finalized the new rules.

The California Police Chiefs Association, California State Sheriffs Association, Crime Victims United of California and other groups warned that the new standards, requiring window glazing to keep car interiors cool, could degrade signals from cell phones and ankle monitoring bracelets worn by felons in rural or mountainous areas.

"The ‘cool car’ technology threatens to undermine an already imperfect monitoring tool," the chiefs said in a recent letter, warning that the state is likely to release many more felons because of prison overcrowding.

The sheriffs said the possible impact on 911 calls in some remote areas is a "significant risk to the safety of the caller."

These were only the latest concerns. California toll booth collectors worried that the technology may have made it impossible to use "EZ pass" systems, and the cell phone industry believes glazing will hurt signals.

The regulation was to take effect in 2012.

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