The state’s governor has called this the “beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine,” and on Thursday, California regulators will vote to put into place a comprehensive plan to restrict and ultimately ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars.
The new strategy, announced at a news conference on Wednesday morning, is largely believed to hasten the worldwide move toward electric vehicles. California is not only the largest car market in the United States, but it also serves as a model for more than a dozen other states when it comes to establishing their own regulations for vehicle emissions.
If those states go through with it, and most are predicted to enact similar measures, the limits would affect roughly a third of the U.S. auto market.
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“This is big,” said Margo Oge, an expert on electric vehicles who oversaw the EPA’s transportation emissions program under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. The more states that adopt such legislation, “they will drive the market, and drive innovation,” she said.
All new cars sold in California after 2035 must be completely free of emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, per a new rule released by the California Air Resources Board. The rule also establishes intermediate goals, such as the requirement that 35% of newly sold passenger vehicles be emission-free by 2026. By the year 2030, the threshold will have risen to 68%.
Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation account for a disproportionate share of America’s overall contribution to global warming.
California Governor Gavin Newsom hailed the regulation as “one of the most significant steps to the elimination of the tailpipe as we know it.”
“Our kids are going to act like it’s a rotary phone or changing the station on a television,” Governor Newsom stated in an interview.
Alliance for Automotive Innovation president John Bozzella said that while his organization’s member companies would like to see more electric vehicles on the road, they find California’s rules to be “very tough” to satisfy.
Inflation, charging and fuel infrastructure, supply chains, labor, critical mineral availability and pricing, and the ongoing semiconductor shortage are all examples of external factors that could affect whether or not these requirements are realistic or achievable, as Mr. Bozzella wrote in an email.
It is possible that a future president may challenge President Trump’s decision to challenge California’s ability to establish its own standards under the Clean Air Act for limiting pollution from automobiles. To add insult to injury, a coalition of Republican state attorneys general has filed a lawsuit to overturn California’s authority to establish its own pollution standards.
The new California regulation has been challenged by attorneys general from 17 states whose governments are controlled by Republicans. West Virginia’s attorney general and plaintiff in the case, Patrick Morrisey, argued that California’s waiver was unfair because it showed “favoritism” and “violated the states’ equal sovereignty.”
The case is headed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the nation’s second-highest court behind the Supreme Court. No date for oral arguments has been set at this time.