States consider joining California in mandating all electric cars by 2035

Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Vermont are likely to join California’s mandate to force the new car market to offer only electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2035. A dozen or so additional states are debating the measure and could join the deepest-blue states, even amid fears of dire economic and industry repercussions.

Washington and Massachusetts have trigger laws tied to the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) actions with regard to the banning of gas car sales.

As of Aug 25, CARB had adopted the strictest standards in the country, moving Washington Governor Jay Inslee to announce last week that Washington, where current vehicle registrations indicate 8% electric cars in their state (the highest percentage nationwide), would adopt the stifling set of regulations. Massachusetts is sure to follow.

Fear of climate change has famously reached a fevered pitch in Sacramento. With gigantic implications for the seventh-largest economy in the world, CARB has been working on a plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, especially through the prohibition of fossil fuel use. These standards for new auto sales are the centerpiece of their efforts.

There are intermediate standards along the way. By 2026, 35% of the new cars sold in CA will reportedly need to be electric or plug-in hybrids. By 2030, that number will jump to 68%.

Two things to note about the politics of this. First, rather than encouraging the best possible use of technology that is currently available, blue state governors seem to prefer setting pie-in-the-sky mandates for an arbitrary year in the middle distance that would require technology and readiness that can hardly be forecast for that year.

Second, governors set those dates for when they will no longer be in office. Gavin Newsom will not be governor of CA in 2035. If he wins a second term this November, he will leave office on Jan 2, 2027, having passed only the first benchmark date of his regulation, when 35% of new car sales will be required to be electric vehicles.

The California standards are not popular in many places. For instance, Minnesota is among a number of cold-weather states staging a major opposition campaign. According to the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association, freezing weather obviates the exclusive use of electric cars in the state.

“The technology is such that the vehicles just don’t perform that well in cold weather,” said Scott Lambert in a statement to the Associated Press. “We don’t all live in southern California.”

There are similar concerns in Colorado. “While the governor shares the goal of rapidly moving towards electric vehicles, he is skeptical about requiring 100% of cars sold to be electric by a certain date as technology is rapidly changing,” the Colorado Energy Office told the AP.

Colorado is among 14 states that currently adhere to CARB’s rules on car emissions, none of which has yet announced their readiness to follow the new electric car mandate.

Virginia, however, has weighed in big time.

Virginia passed legislation in 2021 to take on California’s standards before Republican Glenn Youngkin was elected to replace Democrat Governor Ralph Northam. With Virginia’s legislature also flipping to GOP control, Youngkin aims to divorce the state from those mandates, asserting that they are “ridiculous”.

“In an effort to turn Virginia into California, liberal politicians who previously ran our government sold Virginia out by subjecting Virginia drivers to California vehicle laws,” Youngkin wrote in a statement on Twitter. “Now, under that pact, Virginians will be forced to adopt the California law that prohibits the sale of gas and diesel-fueled vehicles.”

Youngkin added, “I am already at work to prevent this ridiculous edict from being forced on Virginians. California’s out of touch laws have no place in our Commonwealth.”


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