The Virginia Senate approved a bill allowing the State Air Pollution Control Board to adopt both California’s low-emission vehicle standards (LEV) and its zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standards that set binding targets for electric vehicle sales as a proportion of all sales by manufacturers in the state.
ZEV and LEV standards can be confusing and are often construed as the same, so we thought we would use the official definitions and explain what they are and also provide a table of which states have adopted, or will likely adopt, LEV and or ZEV standards in the near future.
California has a unique authority under Section 209 of the Clean Air Act to maintain motor vehicle emission standards that are stricter than the federal standards, as long as the federal government has issued a waiver.
- California refers to its motor vehicle emission standards as the Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards.
- Additionally, as part of its larger Advanced Clean Cars Program, California’s Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) program requires major manufacturers of passenger cars and light trucks (up to 8,500 pounds) to attain a certain number of ZEV credits depending on the number of vehicles produced and delivered for sale in the state. ZEVs include plug-in electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.
Other states may adopt California’s standards under Section 177 of the Clean Air Act, but they may not develop independent standards:
- As of February 2021, nine other states have adopted both California’s ZEV program as well as the LEV standards: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
- Colorado will adopt both LEV and ZEV standards for the 2022 vehicle model years.
- Three other states — Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Washington – and the District of Columbia are following California’s LEV standards, but have not adopted the ZEV program. Together, all 15 of these states are referred to as “Section 177 states.”
Following is a table of the states (and District of Columbia) as of March 3, 2021 that either have adopted the ZEV and/or LEV standards, have passed legislative approval, or are likely to adopt in the next few years.