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California Seeks to Ban IC Vehicles in 2035

Goal creates another confrontation with federal regulators
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California has set a “firm goal” to ban the sale of new piston-powered passenger vehicles in 2035.

The state currently accounts for about 11% of all new-car sales in the U.S. Fewer than 10% of those deals involve electric vehicles.

Smoggy Los Angeles  (Getty Images)

Executive Decree

The new target is in the form of an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom. He directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to write regulations that would require 100% of in-state sales of new cars and light trucks to be zero-emission vehicles.

Doing so would lower the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide, by 35%, according to Newsom.

“We need bold action,” he tweeted earlier today. “Cars shouldn’t give our kids asthma. Make wildfires worse. Melt glaciers. Or raise sea levels.”

Legal Battle Continues

The order is the latest salvo in California’s fight with the Trump administration over its ability, granted by the 50-year-old Clean Air Act, to write its own air quality rules.

Last autumn, the White House rescinded the state’s right to impose limits for carbon dioxide emissions. In March it eased Obama era rules on future fuel economy and CO2 emissions, but California vowed to follow the tougher standards anyway.

California and 22 others that follow its regulations sued the Trump administration late last year over the state’s CO2 regulatory powers and ability to impose sales quotas to boost electric-car sales. The White House is seeking a dismissal.

CARB also announced in August that five automakers—BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and Volvo—agreed to voluntarily meet CO2 limits that are tougher than the new U.S. regulations but not as strict as the Obama rules they replaced.

What’s Next?

California remains adamant about pursuing its aggressive plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Sooner or later, the state and federal regulators must come to terms with who will be allowed to do what. But for now, the question is mired in multiple lawsuits.

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