In a depressingly symbolic year for climate change, energy policy and public health, just a week after GM recalled the last cars its entire California fleet of 1000 Zero Emission electric vehicles to be destroyed (citing a "lack of demand"), and during the same year by which California air regulators had since 1990 required that 10% of all new cars be pollution free had not Governor Davis lifted the requirement upon taking office -  state air regulators have come out with a new standard for rating new cars that instead re-classifies gasoline-burning engines as "clean."

Say hello to the "Partial Zero Emission Vehicle," ("P-ZEV") a characteristically Moderate Democratic nomenclature to which the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Detroit automakers have agreed - a watered down version of the "Zero Emmission Vehicles" classification following Governor Davis' post-election decision to eliminate a 1990 requirement that, starting in  2003, 10% of all cars sold in California should have been Zero Emission Vehicles ("ZEV").

Following the Governor's lead, new regulations have been approved that classify gas automobiles as "Partial Zero Emission Vehicles" ("P-ZEV"). The settlement is a victory for the gasoline-powered engine. After Governor Davis' unilaterally eliminated a highly popular ZEV rule for political reasons, the CARB has negotiated a new standard for ZEV that classifies internal combustion, gasoline-burning cars as "clean."

"We don't agree with mandated approaches to automotive technology, but the 2003 regulation might have the flexibility we've been asking for," says GM spokesman Dave Barthmuss. In other words, automakers can make P-ZEVs, with an assist from gas-electric hybrids and assorted credits accumulated from golf cart sales and alternative-fuel research to easily account for10 percent of vehicle sales within the next decade.

P-ZEV includes internal combustion engines and thus satisfies the automobile and oil industries. In fact, the new CARB agreement is a tacit acceptance that California's Moderate Democratic Leadership has killed the alternative-fuel revolution .  CARB, California's environmental regulatory body, required in 1990 that automakers must build alternate-fuel, zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). By this year, CARB had decreed, ten percent of vehicle sales must be electric cars or hydrogen-fueled vehicles. When the edict was lifted by Governor Davis, Detroit was free to continue with business as usual, so that neither will sell anywhere near 10 percent of all vehicles unless new leadership reinstates some version of the 1990 ZEV rule.  With Democrats like Davis who needs a Republican?

GM's recent decision to recall and destroy every single EV-1, a highly popular all-electric sports car with an excellent performance record and hugely popular among owners, is illustrative. Claiming it was destroying the cars based on a "lack of demand," as if this had nothing to do with Governor Davis' lifting of the 1990 requirement, GM threatened to destroy the credit ratings of any EV-1 drivers who refused to give up their cars. In August EV-1 owners held a mock funeral procession for the EV-1 in Los Angeles.

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