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Newsom Signs Executive Order to Phase Out Gas-Powered Cars by 2035

Electric vehicle charging. – Courtesy photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Transportation currently accounts for more than 50% of state’s greenhouse gas emissions   

Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he issued an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035 and expressed support for ending fracking — the process of drilling into the earth and injecting water at high pressure at rocks to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas — in the state.   

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.  

“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.”  

Under the order, the California Air Resources Board would develop regulations to mandate that all in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035 — a target which, according to the governor’s office, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 35%. The Aire Resources Board is also ordered to develop regulations mandating that all “medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the State be zero-emission by 2045 for all operations where feasible and by 2035 for drayage trucks.

The executive order also addresses the need for infrastructure and orders the Air Resources Board, the Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission and other state agencies to use their authority to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options.

The executive order does not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the used car market. “You can still keep your internal-combustion engine car. You can still have a market for used cars. You can still trade and transfer those cars. We’re not taking anything away,” said the governor. 

California is the first state in the country mandating 100% zero-emission vehicles but joins 15 countries that have already committed to phase out gasoline-powered cars. 

According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, by 2035 “zero-emission vehicles will almost certainly be cheaper and better than the traditional fossil fuel powered cars. 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.”   

The executive order also order the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division to “Propose a significantly strengthened, stringent, science-based health and safety draft rule that protects communities and workers from the impacts of oil extraction activities by December 31, 2020.” The agency is also tasked with enforcing regulations to ensure taxpayers are not stuck with the bill to safely close and remediate former oil fields. 

Multiple state transportation agencies are also directed to work towards 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.  

Newsom did not order an end to fracking in his executive order but he is asking the Legislature to end the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024. “We have a commitment to phase out fracking here in the state of California. Pursuant to this executive order, we will be directing and working very specifically on a legislative strategy to begin the phase out formally of fracking,” said the governor. “That is a commitment, a firm commitment, from this administration, codified in this executive order that will be advanced January in the new legislative session to advance that cause as well.”

September 24, 2020

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Fabiola Diaz


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