SACRAMENTO – Emphasizing that California must stay at the forefront of the fight against climate change, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday issued an executive order to require all new car sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035 and threw his support behind a ban on the controversial use of hydraulic fracturing by oil companies.
Under Newsom’s order, the California Air Resources Board would implement the phaseout of new gas-powered cars and light trucks and also require medium and heavy-duty trucks to be zero-emission by 2045 where possible. California would be the first state in the nation to mandate 100% zero-emission vehicles, though 15 countries already have committed to phasing out gas-powered cars.
Newsom did not take executive action to ban the controversial oil extraction method known as fracking but called on the state Legislature to do so, setting up what could be a contentious political fight when lawmakers reconvene in Sacramento next year.
Taken together, the two climate change efforts would accelerate the state’s already aggressive efforts to curtail carbon emissions and petroleum hazards and promise to exacerbate tensions with a Trump administration intent on bridling California’s liberal environmental agenda.
“In the next 15 years we will eliminate in the state of California the sales of internal combustion engines,” Newsom said at a news conference in Sacramento before signing the order. “If you want to reduce asthma, if you want to mitigate the rise of sea level, if you want to mitigate the loss of ice sheets around the globe, then this is a policy for other states to follow.”
Newsom’s executive order calls ending the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035 a “goal,” but it also orders the Air Resources Board to immediately begin drafting regulations to achieve it by that year.
The governor acknowledged that not everyone would embrace the 100% zero-emissions mandate but emphasized that nothing in his order would prevent Californians from owning gas-powered cars or buying or selling them used.
“We’re not taking anything away,” Newsom said. “We’re providing an abundance of new choices and new technology, being agnostic about how we get to zero emissions, but being committed to getting to zero emissions by 2035.”
Newsom said that California’s action will help spur greater innovation for zero-emission vehicles and, by creating a huge market, will drive down the cost of those cars and trucks. More than 1.63 million new cars and trucks are expected to be sold in the state in 2020, according to the California New Car Dealers Association.
He noted that California is home to 34 manufacturers of electric vehicles and that just under 50% of all the electric vehicle purchases in the country are in this state. Phasing out gas-powered cars will not reduce the hazards posed by carbon emissions but serve as a catalyst to bring more green economic jobs to California, he said.
Climate scientists and advocates say the world must stop production of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2030 in order to keep global warming to tolerable levels. California and other governments across the world are seeking to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, and it will take years for vehicles to turn over and be replaced by zero-emission models.
Beau Boeckmann, president of Galpin Motors dealerships in Los Angeles, said the 2035 mandate “sounds a little scary to some at first blush,” but that everything evolves in this changing world, and everyone needs to prepare for it. The auto industry eventually will benefit by doing to right thing, he said.
“Pollution is a terrible thing. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s, and you couldn’t see across the valley with that brown haze,” Boeckmann said. “L.A. was known for smog like London was known for fog.”
Alliance for Automotive Innovation President and Chief Executive John Bozzellas said the electric car market is critical to auto manufacturers, but “neither mandates nor bans build successful markets.”
State Senate Republican leader Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, which is in the heart of California oil country, criticized Newsom’s order as “extremist,” saying the governor’s time would be better used protecting Californians from wildfires rather than banning cars that most state residents rely on to provide for their families.