California Governor Issues Executive Order Banning Sale of New Gas-Powered Vehicles by 2035

By Melanie Arter | September 24, 2020 | 12:47pm EDT
California Governor Gavin Newsom (Photo by AGUSTIN PAULLIER/AFP via Getty Images)
California Governor Gavin Newsom (Photo by AGUSTIN PAULLIER/AFP via Getty Images)

( - California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Wednesday banning gas-fueled cars and trucks by 2035.

The governor said 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.”

He blamed the transportation sector for contributing to more than half of the state’s carbon pollution, “80 percent of smog-forming pollution and 95 percent 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.”

The governor also blamed gas-powered cars for making wildfires worse, melting ice glaciers and raising sea levels.

“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” Newsom said in a statement. “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.”

The rule does not ban people from owning or selling such vehicles on the used car market. The goal is 100 percent reliance on clean, renewable energy by 2045.

The executive order states:

“It shall be a goal of the State that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission by 2035. It shall be a further goal of the State that 100 percent of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the State be zero-emission by 2045 for all operations where feasible and by 2035 for drayage trucks. It shall be further a goal of the State to transition to 100 percent zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment by 2035 where feasible.”

“If you want to reduce asthma, if you want to mitigate the rise of sea levels ...  then this is a policy for other states to follow, for other states and nations to emulate. If you care about your kids and your grandkids, if you care about disadvantaged communities, if you care about seniors, if you care about rural communities, if you care about inner-city communities that have been underserved by fossil fuel economy, then you care about the core construct that we’re advancing here in this executive order,” Newsom said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“So I’m very proud to have the privilege of growing up in this state, the Golden State. We believe the future happens here first. We are in every way, shape or form, we believe, America’s coming attraction, not just in terms of the impacts of climate change but our resolve to address the impacts of climate change and lead in arresting these issues in a more sustainable way, a more regenerative mindset which is foundational to the fate and future not just of the people of this state, but our nation and the planet,” the governor added.

The California New Car Dealers Association issued a statement Wednesday, saying that while it supports the state’s goals to combat climate change, “there are many questions and factors that need to be thoughtfully considered and addressed before implementing such a mandate on consumers.” 

“While we greatly respect the Governor’s ambition and emphasis on California leading the fight to combat climate change, we have many unanswered questions about fundamental components of his Executive Order to ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, including the implications on consumers and the state’s preparedness to take on such a directive,” Brian Maas, president of the California New Car Dealers Association, said in a statement.

“Foremost, if the policy is ultimately adopted, this will transform how Californians move about our state.  Such a significant public policy change and drastic shift in how Californians operate every single day requires addressing, upfront, critical elements to how this directive will be met including:

  • Consumer Adoption: Despite California leading the US in Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) market share, adoption is limited to the wealthy and represents a fraction of the 2 million new passenger and light-duty vehicles sold annually. 
  • Consumer Affordability: ZEVs are thousands of dollars more expensive than comparable gasoline powered vehicles, if they are available at all.
  • Infrastructure: California lacks the charging infrastructure—and the financial plan to achieve it—needed to support this mass shift in transportation needs.
  • Mandates vs. Goals: Banning new non-ZEV vehicles and limiting choice, even 15 years from now, is significantly more difficult than striving to achieve the goals the Governor has set forth.
  • Current Standards Are Not Being Met: We already have aspirations about how many ZEVs are supposed to be on the road in California, yet we are currently falling short of those goals. 

“Additionally, bypassing the elected Legislature and directing the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to adopt rules to prohibit the sale of non-ZEV vehicles to enact this significant transportation policy change is deeply troubling and deprives Californians of a direct voice in this important issue.

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