California Governor Gavin Newsom’s new executive order bans the sale of all new gasoline-powered cars and passenger trucks by 2035. After that, only zero-emissions new cars will be sold in the state of California. Californians will still be able to own, drive, buy and sell used cars that run on gas.
Over half of California’s current carbon emissions come from transportation. The governor’s office foresees a 35% drop in greenhouse gas emissions once the new policy goes into effect.
“I don’t know of any other state in this country that’s been more forceful and forthright in establishing and anchoring a consciousness around climate change,” Newsom said in a press conference Wednesday. “We just want to fundamentally reconcile the fact we’re no longer living in 19th century, and we don’t need to drill things or extract things in order to advance our economic goals and advance our mobility needs.”
Priorities stressed in the executive order include setting new health regulations around oil extraction and the communities affected by it, stopping hydraulic fracking permits from being issued by 2024 and planning a statewide rail and transit network. The California Air Resources Board is formulating regulations for medium and heavy-duty vehicles to be zero emissions by 2045.
“This is an economic opportunity: the opportunity to transform our economy across sectors, the opportunity to accelerate innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit, the opportunity to bring more companies here into the state of California,” said Newsom.
Not everyone favors this turn away from gasoline, and Newsom will likely face political, legal and commercial challenges. In the past, President Trump has objected to California setting its own auto emission standards that differ from federal rules. The California New Car Dealers Association released a statement saying that the state’s citizens should have more of a say in this matter.
While electric cars are better for the environment than those fueled by gasoline, the lithium necessary for electronic vehicles’ batteries causes another set of problems. Mining for lithium affects communities and ecosystems from northern Tibet to the salt plains of Chile to Nevada’s desert. Hopefully, better batteries and the planned statewide rail and transit network catch on and drive down demand for every person to own a private car.
Image via Pexels