Sep 23, 2020 - Energy & Environment

California moves to phase out new gasoline-powered cars

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is issuing an executive order that seeks to eliminate sales of new gasoline-powered cars in his state by 2035, a move the White House said President Trump "won't stand for."

Why it matters: California is the largest auto market in the U.S., and transportation is the biggest source of carbon emissions in the state and nationwide.

  • Newsom's order would make California the first state in the U.S. to mandate the phase-out of gasoline-powered cars, although 15 countries as well as some major European cities have already done so.
  • The move, if implemented, would mark one of the world's most aggressive climate policies to stem emissions from vehicles and promote electric models.

Driving the news: Newsom's order demands that state regulators craft rules that require increasing sales of zero-emissions passenger cars and trucks, reaching the phase-out of sales of new fossil fueled-vehicles by 2035.

  • The order, which seeks to grow sales of climate-friendly vehicles over time, also seeks regulations with a target of all new medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses sold or operated in the state being zero emissions by 2045 where it's "feasible."

The other side: White House spokesperson Judd Deere called the order "yet another example of how extreme the left has become," adding it would "destroy jobs and raise costs on the consumer."

  • He said Trump "won't stand for it." The White House did not say what form its opposition would take. But the administration has previously opened regulatory and legal battles against California's climate programs, and in particular is seeking to revoke the state's special power to set its own tailpipe standards.
  • The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group representing big automakers, touted its members' increasing offerings of electric vehicles, but said, "neither mandates nor bans build successful markets."

By the numbers: Newsom's office, in a statement, said the 2035 target for passenger vehicles would "achieve more than a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 80 percent improvement in oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide."

What they're saying: “We agree with Governor Newsom that it’s time to take urgent action to address climate change," per a statement from Ford Motor Co. "That’s why we’re proud to stand with California in achieving meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions in our vehicles as we electrify our most iconic nameplates like the F-150 and the Mustang Mach E."

Context: California's announcement comes as companies like Tesla, Volkswagen and General Motors are increasing their investments in electric vehicle technology to make plug-in cars more affordable.

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