Gov. Schwarzenegger has named a UC Davis transportation expert to the California Air Resources Board, a regulatory agency widely seen as a global leader in clean-air and climate-change programs.
Daniel Sperling, 55, is founding director of the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, the world's leading academic program in clean vehicle fuels, technologies and policy.
Sperling, an international authority on research and development in advanced transportation fuels and fuel technology, is a frequent adviser to government officials, automakers and the fuels industry.
Indeed, for 20 years, Sperling and his colleagues have been trusted independent analysts of car and truck technologies and consumer attitudes in California, the United States and foreign countries including China, New Zealand and elsewhere. Their studies and analyses have been funded by state and federal governments, major U.S. and foreign automakers, and transportation fuel producers and distributors.
ITS-Davis findings have deeply influenced the development of every major clean vehicle policy in California — and history shows that where California leads in air quality and transportation innovations, other states and nations follow.
Sperling came to UC Davis in 1981 as professor of civil engineering and environmental science and policy. He previously was an environmental protection specialist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Today, he heads a new research initiative at ITS-Davis named Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways. Building on ITS-Davis' expertise in both the engineering and consumer aspects of alternative transportation, STEPS will evaluate the technical, economic, environmental and policy issues that will arise as the nation increases its use of nonpetroleum fuels (such as biofuels and hydrogen) and vehicles (such as plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell cars).
Last month, the Schwarzenegger administration named Sperling co-leader of a team of UC researchers assigned the job of writing a low-carbon fuel standard for California — the first such policy in the world. The standard will be a key element in the governor's efforts to get fuel producers to cut the carbon content of fuels sold in California by at least 10 percent by 2020. The team includes two other UC Davis energy experts and a co-director from UC Berkeley.
What is different about California's new approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks is that the target is not the vehicles — the engines and catalytic converters, and the many pollutants they produce during combustion — but instead the fuel itself.