Gov. Newsom Orders 2035 Phaseout of Gas-Powered Vehicles
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 23 announced that he will aggressively move the state further away from its reliance on climate change-causing fossil fuels while retaining and creating jobs and spurring economic growth.
Newsom issued an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035 and additional measures to eliminate harmful emissions from the transportation sector.
The transportation sector is responsible for more than half of all of California’s carbon pollution, 80% of smog-forming pollution, and 95% of toxic diesel emissions—all while communities in the Los Angeles Basin and Central Valley see some of the dirtiest and most toxic air in the country, Newsom’s office said.
“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Newsom. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”
NextGen California said Newsom’s executive order “puts us on the right track.”
“Burning gasoline and diesel for transportation is by far the biggest source of air pollution and is what drives California's contributions to the climate crisis,” said NextGen California Senior Policy Advisor David Weiskopf. “This order lays down an important marker that we need to tackle this problem in a just and systematic way – from the wellhead where oil is produced to the vehicles we drive.”
Weiskopf added, “We can achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, but it will take ambitious actions like these across the whole economy – including burning gas in buildings, heavy industry, agriculture, and improving how we manage lands and waters in the state. We will also need to create more and better clean housing and transportation options across the state, and start making smart infrastructure decisions that begin to undo the toxic legacy of environmental racism that continues to harm low-income and communities of color. This order takes important steps in that direction by including transit, walking, biking, and other clean transportation infrastructure components.”
While eliminating greenhouse gases in California will not be enough to solve the climate crisis, Weiskopf said, “If we do this well, our state can be the pivot point that turns both the national and global economies towards a more just and sustainable model.”
Pushback on Newsom’s plan began immediately on Wednesday, with the California Fuels & Convenience Alliance calling Newsom’s plan to unilaterally enact the policy “both troubling and a cause of great distress for millions of Californians.”
The group added, “This order not only represents an egregious transgression of the legislative process, but also an outright disregard for the millions of Californians struggling to just get by in today's most taxing of circumstances.”
It also said the state’s power grid does not have the capacity to bear the weight of carrying one of the largest personal transportation sectors in the world. “California already cannot meet its own energy demand without widespread EV adoption,” the group said, adding that EV’s remain out of reach for many working Californians.
"California's transportation industries continue to make strides in greener and environmentally responsible solutions from renewable fuels, to vehicles with unfathomable efficiency, and this order is a blatant affront to these great advancements. The path to a greener tomorrow cannot be a one-size-fits-all 'solution' forced down by a one-party regime,” the group said.
The California Chamber of Commerce said it agreed with Newsom that California has been a leader in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, especially by adopting a market-based cap-and-trade program and phasing in a greater share of renewable electricity generation.
"To develop a comprehensive and effective approach to climate change policy, California needs to have standards that other states and nations can follow. We can’t do it alone,” CalChamber said in a statement. "Banning vehicles with internal combustion engines in just 14 years is unrealistic since it presumes that consumer demand will not create a viable ZEV market by 2035.”
Unless California, along with other states and countries, supports a market for ZEVs that ensures vehicle performance, range, safety, functionality, price, and choice for automobile consumers, then California residents alone will be left with higher energy and transportation costs without a material effect on global GHG emissions, the group said.
“Eliminating the infrastructure for fueling internal combustion engines will only further exacerbate this cost increase for low-income Californians and will wipe out major elements of local government and schools’ property tax base,” CalChamber said.
State agencies, Legislature, and the private sector are to be involved in the process.
Following the order, the California Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that 100% of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035 – a target which would achieve more than a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 80% improvement in oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide.
In addition, the Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100% zero-emission by 2045 where feasible, with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage trucks.
To ensure needed infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles, the order requires state agencies, in partnership with the private sector, to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options. It also requires the support of new and used zero-emission vehicle markets to provide broad accessibility to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians.
The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the used car market.
Newsom’s office said California will be leading the nation in this effort – joining 15 countries that have already committed to phase out gasoline-powered cars and using our market power to push zero-emission vehicle innovation and drive down costs for everyone.
By the time the new rule goes into effect, zero-emission vehicles will almost certainly be cheaper and better than the traditional fossil fuel-powered cars. Newsom’s office said the upfront cost of electric vehicles are projected to reach parity with conventional vehicles in just a matter of years, and the cost of owning the car—both in maintenance and how much it costs to power the car mile for mile—is far less than a fossil fuel burning vehicle.
Newsom’s office said the executive order sets clear deliverables for new health and safety regulations that protect workers and communities from the impacts of oil extraction. It supports companies that transition their upstream and downstream oil production operations to cleaner alternatives. It also directs the state to make sure taxpayers are not stuck with the bill to safely close and remediate former oil fields.
To protect the health and safety of our communities and workers, the governor is also asking the Legislature to end the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024.
The executive order directs state agencies to develop strategies for an integrated, statewide rail and transit network, and incorporate safe and accessible infrastructure into projects to support bicycle and pedestrian options, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities.