Virginia Ties Clean Car Standards to California

The last obstacle to a 2021 bill linking Virginia’s emissions standards to California policy was defeated on a party-line vote in the state’s legislature, paving the way for a shift to electric vehicles.

1 minute read

February 16, 2023, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

“The last surviving bill from Republicans aimed at rolling back a Virginia law tying the state to emissions standards set by California that will ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles starting in 2035 reached the end of the road Tuesday,” reports Charlie Paullin in the Virginia Mercury, eliminating the last remaining obstacle to the new law. 

According to Paullin, “Virginia Democrats have defended the 2021 law on the grounds that it puts Virginia at the front of the line to receive electric vehicles from automakers who are transitioning their fleets and will improve air quality.”

Tying state regulations to California standards, which call for phasing out the sale of new gas-powered light-duty vehicles by 2035, is one of two options for states to comply with the federal Clean Air Act. The other is following federal standards, which are not as stringent as California’s.

Some Virginia lawmakers argue that meeting the deadlines set by California’s regulations would be impossible for their state, also citing concerns about how an influx of electric vehicles would impact the state’s electric grid. A proposed amendment to delay or stop the bill failed in a party-line vote.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023 in The Virginia Mercury

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