California may be well known for its stance against pollution when it comes to legislating on emissions rules, but environmentalists have become incensed about the state’s increasingly lax attitude towards reducing pollution through regulation of new zero-emissions vehicles.

In 1990, California adopted legislation that required 10% of carmakers’ fleets be zero-emissions vehicles by 2003. When it became clear this goal wasn’t going to be reached, the rule was changed to include ‘low-emissions’ vehicles as well (i.e. hydrogen cars, hybrids and even cleaner-burning petrol vehicles). However, in an attempt to regain credibility, the 2003 changes also mandated there be 25,000 zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2014, reports the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, there is still no mainstream zero-emissions vehicle and now recommendations to the state’s Air Resources Board is claiming the newer 25,000 number be reduced to just 2,500 because the goal is too hard for carmakers. The setbacks have been blamed on the high cost of research and manufacture of zero-emissions vehicles, which are still deemed non-financially viable for the mass market.

The government is yet to make a decision on revising the regulations once again but any move to soften the rules would only reduce pressure on carmakers to produce zero-emissions vehicle, a move considered counterproductive and irresponsible by environmentalists.

Pictured above is the all-electric Tesla Roadster, one of the few true zero-emissions vehicles.