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Yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state will phase out sales of all gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. As Governor Newsom said in a separate event with Democratic governors yesterday, people have climate “goal fatigue” and are ready for the application of those goals–this move on gas-powered cars walks the walk on California’s ambitious climate goals.
As NPR explained, in signing the executive order on Wednesday, this amounts to the most aggressive clean-car policy in the United States. Although it bans the sale of new gas cars and trucks after the 15-year deadline, it will still allow such vehicles to be owned and sold on the used-car market.
Why This Matters: Transportation is the biggest source of carbon emissions in the country and this mandate will help lead the rest of the nation and boldly supporting the transition to emissions-free vehicles. The details of how the California Air Resources Board will create the transition plan are yet to be released but this will certainly be challenged in court.
This puts an even heavier emphasis on the importance of the presidential election. Should Donald Trump be reelected, a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court will likely not uphold California’s ambitious phase-out.
Go Deeper: The LA Times posted an informative Q&A about the known details of this announcement.
Newsom Steps Up: Governor Newsom has been adamant that the United States and California especially must address the urgency of the climate crisis. The summer’s record-setting wildfires were a wakeup call to much of the country as photographs flooded social media showing daytime skies glowing an eerie orange and satellite images of wildfire smoke shrouding the entire state. Newsom said in a statement that,
“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.”
Other Takes: Tom Matzzie, CEO of clean energy company Clean Choice, made the following assessment of the impact of California’s pledge to stop the sales of new gas cars:
California will ban the sale of new gas cars by 2035. This will eventually crush oil prices. Even a small drop in demand will send trading prices off a cliff. The clearing price is set by the last barrel sold.
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