Virginia could follow California in ending sales of new gas powered cars by 2035

Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 10:46 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The future of gas-powered cars could be a thing of the past in Virginia after a new regulation passed in the state of California that would end the sale of new gas-powered cars.

The new regulation will lead to the state of California only selling hybrid and zero-emission vehicles by the year 2035 and legislation that passed last year in Virginia could put the Commonwealth in a similar situation.

Despite opposition from state Republicans, the state law that passed requires the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board to implement a low and zero-emission vehicle program for vehicle models 2025 or newer that matches California regulations.

“Under the Clean Air Act, they (states) can adopt more stringent tailpipe pollution patrols than the federal government does (like California’s regulation) and once California adopts more regulations, other states can adopt the same standards,” Trip Pollard, with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said.

Pollard said what passed in California on Thursday would only prevent the sale of new gas-powered vehicles.

“For anyone who owns a gas-powered vehicle, it’s not like someone is going to take your car away,” Pollard said. “Actually used cars, gas cars, can still be sold but new cars would only be zero-emission vehicles under this program, which is exactly where the auto industry is headed already.”

Big auto manufacturers like Ford praised the move in California and said the decision was a landmark standard that will define clean transportation and set an example for the United States.

Pollard said those standards will be needed in Virginia if dealerships hope to sell cars.

“Cleaner vehicles are being sent to the states that have clean car standards to meet those standards,” Pollard said. “For example, Maryland has had it for a number of years and they’ve gotten many more EVs (electric vehicles) sent to them than Virginia has because we didn’t have a standard.”

The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association said Virginia car dealers are committed to electric vehicles but are unsure how the new regulation will hold up in the state.

“Regardless of regulation, we are certain that electric vehicles will be dominant on our nation’s roads by 2035,” Don Hall, president and CEO of Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, said. “But when it comes to these standards, we believe the legislature and our elected leaders need to decide what makes the most sense for Virginia.”

Pollard said there is no doubt the regulation will be challenged during the next General Assembly session.

“There has been opposition. There was a bill to try and repeal the standards in the last session. It was defeated and I fully expect we’ll see that again next session,” Pollard said.

NBC12 reached out to Attorney General Jason Miyares for a statement on the possible change and a spokesperson provided this statement:

On Friday evening, Gov. Glenn Youngkin posted to Twitter that he is “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,” Youngkin said.