Cal­i­for­nia moves to ban cars us­ing gas

Gov­er­nor sets 15-year goal to stop sell­ing new ve­hi­cles that con­sume fos­sil fu­els

Santa Fe New Mexican - - NATION & WORLD - By Brad Plumer and Jill Cowan

Cal­i­for­nia plans to ban the sale of new gaso­line-pow­ered cars statewide by 2035, Gov. Gavin New­som said Wed­nes­day, in a sweep­ing move aimed at ac­cel­er­at­ing the state’s ef­forts to com­bat global warm­ing amid a deadly and record-break­ing wild­fire sea­son.

In an ex­ec­u­tive or­der, New­som di­rected reg­u­la­tors to de­velop a plan that would re­quire au­tomak­ers to sell steadily more zero-emis­sions pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles in the state, such as bat­tery-pow­ered or hy­dro­gen-pow­ered cars and pick­ups, un­til they made up 100 per­cent of new auto sales just 15 years from to­day.

The plan would also set a goal for all heavy-duty trucks on the road in Cal­i­for­nia to be zero emis­sions by 2045 where pos­si­ble. And the or­der di­rects the state’s trans­porta­tion agen­cies to look for near-term ac­tions to re­duce Cal­i­for­nian’s re­liance on driv­ing by, for ex­am­ple, ex­pand­ing ac­cess to mass tran­sit and bik­ing.

“This is the next big global in­dus­try,” New­som said at a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day, re­fer­ring to clean-en­ergy tech­nolo­gies such as elec­tric ve­hi­cles. “And Cal­i­for­nia wants to dom­i­nate it.”

Cal­i­for­nia has long cast it­self as a global leader on climate-change pol­icy, hav­ing al­ready passed a law to get 100 per­cent of its elec­tric­ity from wind, so­lar and other sources that don’t pro­duce car­bon diox­ide by 2045. In re­cent weeks, as the state has been scorched by record wild­fires partly driven by ris­ing tem­per­a­tures, New­som has found him­self pres­sured to act even faster.

Ramp­ing up sales of emis­sions-free ve­hi­cles in Cal­i­for­nia will be an enor­mous chal­lenge over a rel­a­tively short pe­riod of time, ex­perts said. Last year, only about 8 per­cent of the nearly 2 mil­lion pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles sold statewide were bat­tery-elec­tric or plug-in hy­brid ve­hi­cles. Trans­porta­tion re­mains Cal­i­for­nia’s largest source of planet-warm­ing emis­sions, ac­count­ing for roughly 40 per­cent of the state’s green­house gases from hu­man ac­tiv­ity.

“We have a strat­egy to be as bold as the prob­lem is big, to rec­og­nize that we have agency,” New­som said at the news con­fer­ence, where he stood be­fore a glit­ter­ing half cir­cle of elec­tric cars. “We’re not just vic­tims of fate.”

In ad­di­tion to set­ting new stan­dards for au­tomak­ers in the state, Cal­i­for­nia will also likely need to in­crease fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives for peo­ple to af­ford elec­tric ve­hi­cles and sig­nif­i­cantly ex­pand its charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture, said Don Anair, deputy di­rec­tor of the clean ve­hi­cles pro­gram at the Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists, an ad­vo­cacy group.

“It’s fea­si­ble, but it’s go­ing to take Cal­i­for­nia pulling all the levers at its dis­posal,” Anair said.

The or­der would af­fect only new-ve­hi­cle sales, the gov­er­nor’s of­fice said. It would not pre­vent Cal­i­for­ni­ans from own­ing cars with in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines past 2035 or sell­ing them.

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