Virginia AG says state bound by California rule phasing out new gas-powered cars

Virginia AG says state bound by California rule phasing out new gas-powered cars

California’s newly-announced rule barring the sale of new gas-powered cars in 2035 will apply to Virginia as well under the terms of a 2021 state law, Attorney General Jason Miyares’s (R) office confirmed to The Hill on Monday.

In 2021, the state General Assembly, where Democrats then held majorities in both chambers, passed a law requiring the state to adopt the same automobile standards as those adopted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Although Democrats lost their majority in the state House of Delegates in 2021, efforts to repeal the legislation in this year’s session were unsuccessful.

California’s new rule, passed last week, will also apply to Virginia, Miyares spokesperson Victoria LaCivita confirmed to The Hill. The news was first reported by The Virginia Mercury.

“The Attorney General is hopeful that the General Assembly repeals this law and discontinues any trend that makes Virginia more like California,” LaCivita told The Hill in an email. “Unelected California bureaucrats should not be dictating the will of Virginians.”

Virginia is one of 15 states that have adopted an earlier CARB standard that imposes stricter tailpipe emissions standards than the federal rule.

The rule on new gas-powered vehicles does not apply to used cars or restrict the use of existing gas-powered cars. Under the terms of the 2021 law, the California rule would not take effect until 2024, giving Republicans in the legislature at least one more chance to attempt repeal, particularly if they take the state Senate in 2023.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has vowed to prevent the rule from taking effect in Virginia, saying in a statement Friday, “I am already at work to prevent this ridiculous edict from being forced on Virginians.” Although Democrats retained a single-vote edge in the state Senate, Sen. Joe Morrissey (D) has been known to buck his colleagues on votes.

California has frequently spearheaded state-level action to reduce auto emissions, a major driver of climate change. Several other states have already announced their intentions to comply with the new rule.

Despite the stricter regulations, many automakers have been broadly receptive to phasing out internal combustion vehicles while increasing production of electric vehicles. The lobbying group the Virginia Auto Dealers Association was a vocal backer of the 2021 law, and praised the new requirement as well.

“Virginia’s new car dealers are embracing the future of electric vehicles. VADA dealer members supported the adoption of the ZEV standards as part of the state’s commitment to fostering EV adoption, along with charging infrastructure and EV purchase incentives,” President and CEO Don Hall said in a statement. “The state must step up and do its part with all the related policies, in addition to these standards.”


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