California moves to ban sales of gas-powered cars by 2035


(Stock image)

The California Air Resource Board will vote this week on a proposal that would ban all sales of new, gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2035.

The rule would mandate that all new cars sold in the state be “zero-emission,” with a phase-in period that would see 35 percent of new car models sold in California meeting this standard by 2026, a figure that will increase to 68 percent by 2030.

At least two officials with knowledge of the matter said the proposal is likely to pass when the group puts it to a vote on Thursday. The measure has the support of California Governor Gavin Newsom, who said it was a significant step toward addressing the issues of sustainable energy and climate change.

“The climate crisis is solvable if we focus on the big, bold steps necessary to stem the tide of carbon pollution,” Newsom said in a statement.

The policy could have a sweeping effect on the new car industry: Regulations set in California tend to be adopted in other parts of the country. According to the New York Times, around a dozen other states could soon adopt a similar zero-emissions rule for new cars sold. Five states could do so within the next year, the Times reported.

The move comes after federal lawmakers passed an inflation-tackling measure that unleashed a volley of new tax credits specifically earmarked for electric vehicle purchases. Under the new law, customers can claim a tax rebate of up to $7,500 when they purchase a new or used electric vehicle that meets certain criteria, starting next year. Businesses may also apply for a tax credit when they purchase clean energy vehicles.

While clean energy vehicles are often promoted as a significant step towards climate change, some note that a sudden switch to electric vehicles could have unintended economic and environmental impacts. A shift away from gas-powered vehicles toward electric ones would impact auto repair shops who will need to purchase new equipment over the next several years in order to support both types of cars for the long-term.

Environmentalists also note that electric vehicles are not necessarily better for the planet, because the batteries used in those types of vehicles are highly corrosive and contribute to environmental waste. Powering electric vehicles could also strain parts of the already-fragile electric grid in California, though utility officials have said they’re putting projects in place to meet future demand in a world where those types of vehicles are more common than not.

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