Virginia Will Leave California Electric Vehicle Mandate, Governor Announces

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
June 5, 2024US News
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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced his state will stop following California’s standards that would mandate that every new car sold in the state be electric by 2035.

In a news release issued Wednesday, the Republican governor said he made the decision due to what he described as a “misguided electric vehicle mandate imposed by unelected leaders nearly 3,000 miles away from the Commonwealth” of Virginia.

“The idea that government should tell people what kind of car they can or can’t purchase is fundamentally wrong. Virginians deserve the freedom to choose which vehicles best fit the needs of their families and businesses,” he said. “The law is clear, and I am proud to announce Virginians will no longer be forced to live under this out-of-touch policy.”

Lawmakers in Virginia passed a measure in 2021 that aligned the state’s car emissions rules with California’s rules. In 2022, the California Air Resources Board initiated a measure that would gradually ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in the state before banning them in their entirety by 2035. The gradual ban would start in January 2025.

In California, 35 percent of new cars will be required to be electric vehicles by 2026. Manufacturers that sell a gas-powered car that doesn’t comply with state standards could be fined up to $20,000 per car.

However, according to the governor’s office, only 9 percent of all vehicles sold in the commonwealth last year were fully electric vehicles, meaning that “hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties” could be doled out in the near future.

“Virginia auto consumers and dealers could be forced to bear these costs. Not only would this leave auto dealers with less money to pay staff, offer raises, and grow their businesses, it could force many small auto dealers to permanently close their doors,” the news release said.

An opinion from Attorney General Jason Miyares said that the law doesn’t require Virginia to follow the California regulation. Instead, the commonwealth will follow federal regulation standards, starting on Jan. 1, 2025, he said.

“Thankfully the law does not bind us to their regulations,” he wrote. “California does not control which cars Virginians buy and any thoughts that automobile manufacturers should face millions of dollars in civil penalties rather than allowing our citizens to choose their own vehicles is completely absurd.”

Reactions

In a statement, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) signaled that it would challenge Mr. Youngkin’s decision in court, describing it as “illegal.”

“Governor Youngkin’s attempt to wave his hand and dismiss Virginia’s Clean Cars law is illegal, shortsighted, and bad public policy,” Trip Pollard, with SELC, said in a statement. “The Clean Cars standards will help spur the transition to cleaner vehicles and bring significant health and environmental benefits to all Virginians. That is why the General Assembly adopted them. The Governor tried to get the legislature to repeal the law and failed; he cannot just dictate a different outcome.”

The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, which backs Mr. Youngkin’s decision, said that it previously supported the adoption of the California emissions standards but has now backed away because “consumer demand for EVs” isn’t there.

The group said in a statement Wednesday that their previous support was “done to drive demand for fully electric vehicles in Virginia and support dealer interests,” but “reality” then set in.

“The reality, however, is that consumer demand for EVs in Virginia and nationally has not yet materialized, compounded by costs, ‘range anxiety,’ and the lack of charging and electrical infrastructure to support these new vehicles. We continue to believe EV goals are achievable, but on a longer timeline,” it added.

Democrats, meanwhile, have said that Mr. Youngkin is overstepping his authority as governor. On Wednesday, state House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said that his effort to remove the California-aligned mandate is trying to circumvent legislature passed in the commonwealth.

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Tesla Superchargers in San Rafael, Calif., on Feb. 15, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“He’s showing his complete disregard for existing law by going around the General Assembly and pandering to corporate polluters,” she told the Washington Post.

“The governor seems to think we live in a dictatorship where only he decides what the law is,” Senate Majority Leader Scott A. Surovell, a Democrat, told the paper. He added that the governor’s move will be “destructive of Virginia’s pro-business reputation.”

State Sen. Barbara Favola, a Democrat, told WUSA9 that “this is not a California mandate. This is a Virginia mandate that the governor is trying to overrule.”

“So, what he’s doing is trying to make the standards that the Virginia lawmakers adopted, he’s trying to make them look extreme,” she added.

The Epoch Times has contacted the Democratic Party of Virginia for comment.

From The Epoch Times

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