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Electric vehicle policies sweep the nation, and states push back

Electric vehicle policies sweep the nation, and states push back

California rremains the undisputed leader in electric vehicle sales, with 2022 reports pointing to more than 1.5 million sold in the past decade. This trend is expected to continue as the state has made recent ambitious regulations to promote clean energy.

However, many are not convinced that electric vehicles are the solution to our environmental crisis, pointing to potential economic and environmental challenges that come with strict mandates.


Here’s a breakdown of California’s role in influencing the rest of the nation when it comes to electric vehicle regulations, and a look at the states pushing back against ever-changing green transportation upgrades.

California hits electric vehicle sales targets two years early

California has been working to promote electric vehicles to improve its air quality, which has fallen below standards.

“Zero emissions is a very important part of our strategy because without reducing these final amounts of emissions from individual vehicles, we will not improve the quality of the air we have,” John Swanton of the California Office of the Chair . Air Resources Board, he told the Washington Examiner.

Like many states, California offers incentives to those who buy electric vehicles, specifically through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. It offers rebates of $1,000 to $7,500 for those who purchase or lease new zero-emission electric, electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

These efforts have resulted in the Golden State meeting its goal of selling 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles in the state by 2025, signed in 2012 by former Governor Jerry Brown two years earlier. As of March, 1,523,966 electric vehicles have been sold since 2011, according to data from the California Energy Commission.

California’s story as a leader in clean energy vehicles

California has set precedents for the nation’s move toward greener energy, starting with pushing for zero-emissions mandates and similar policies that paved the way for electric vehicle plans.

However, experts believe the state still has a long way to go to achieve healthier air quality for residents.

“I mean, we’ve made a lot of progress, but the recent American Lung Association report pointed to California, and it’s still the worst air quality in the country,” Swanton said. “So we have some of the worst areas. We have some of the largest populations breathing unhealthy air.”

Swanton, who has been with CARB for about three decades, pointed to the lung association’s 2023 “State of the Air” report card, which showed that California and other western states have poor air quality healthy due to climate change, finding that 9 out of 10 Californians. live with polluted air.

California passed the zero-emission vehicle mandate in 1990. It was the first of its kind in the world to require automakers to manufacture a specific percentage of zero-emission vehicles in the been

In 2004, California implemented the Clean Car Standards, which set emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks. The legislation was the first in the country to adopt standards for automakers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide produced by vehicles. Regulation was phased out over the years until the full target was reached in 2016.

In 2012, the Golden State introduced amendments to these low-emission vehicle policies, known as LEV III, which is part of CARB’s Advanced Clean Cars program, marking the strictest update since 2004. This was the first legislation that required automakers to produce a certain number of electric vehicles, with 15.4% of new sales in California projected to be electric vehicles.

In 2018, the Innovative Clean Transit program was adopted, requiring all transit agencies to transition to 100% zero-emission bus fleets by 2040.

In 2020, the Advanced Clean Trucks rule was introduced, requiring all medium- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers to sell an increasing number of zero-emission trucks, with the goal of reaching 100% by 2045.

Advanced Clean Cars II was proposed by CARB in 2022. It is considered the most ambitious regulation to date because it is the first time new vehicle sales will be required to be 100% zero emissions. The target for full compliance is set for 2035 and includes fuel cell electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles.

The regulation was fully approved by CARB in August 2022 and approved by the California Office of Administrative Law in November 2022. However, the regulation is not applicable until the state receives a waiver from the ‘Environmental Protection Agency, but it is expected to be so. sent shortly

Role of the Environmental Protection Agency

The Biden administration has proposed requiring regulation with the EPA following California’s Clean Car Rule II. The plan, released on April 12, would require automakers to cut emissions from cars and light trucks by 10 percent annually through 2026.

The proposal differs from California’s mandate by not requiring that zero-emission vehicles make up a percentage of sales, but the total number of cars an automaker sells each year would have to be in line with the standard of emissions This forces car manufacturers to produce enough electric vehicles to stay below the standard emissions limit.

David Stevenson, director of the Center for Energy Competitiveness at the Caesar Rodney Institute, a Delaware-based conservative think tank, told the Washington Examiner: “I certainly don’t think the EPA should support this, even though They are. In fact, they spearheaded Delaware’s efforts to require a new state implementation plan for how air pollution standards would be carried out, and that’s what started our Air Quality Division. air looking at it first.

Other states to follow suit

Fourteen states have adopted California’s vehicle standards starting in 2022 under Section 177 of the federal Clean Air Act. These states are New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Colorado, and Minnesota.

Minnesota is one of the latest to retain California’s government, becoming the first Midwestern state to do so. A Minnesota appeals court upheld the state’s commitment to follow West Coast regulations in January of this year.

Many of the states that have adopted the 2012 clean car standard are also paving the way for more ambitious state regulations, starting with Advanced Clean Cars II, setting 2035 as the target date for a full transition to vehicles of zero emissions. Some of these states include New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington.

Delaware is among the latest states pushing to follow the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Resources’ proposed 2035 standard by 2022.

“Since 2015, Delaware has run several successful incentive programs to encourage residents and businesses to switch to clean transportation alternatives,” DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said in a news release. “Together with the state’s electric transportation infrastructure investments, ZEV will help fuel our transition to an electric transportation future.”

The opposite side

Red states and Republican leaders have advocated against electric vehicle mandates on several grounds. Some are skeptical about the environmental benefits, while others believe the benefits outweigh the high costs to consumers and the destruction of the economy.

Many states have been less supportive of electric vehicles as some lawmakers push to create restrictive measures for electric vehicles.

Delaware GOP leaders have made headlines for pushing back against Democrats and the DNREC movement to follow California’s new regulations.

“We did a formal survey; we did a scientific survey of people who had voted in the last two elections,” Stevenson said, referring to a telephone survey done by Ragnar Research. “And it reflects the population of Delaware by county, income, sex, race, everything that, and we got back that 73% of Delaware voters don’t want this regulation.”

Stevenson said survey feedback confirmed that people did not want regulation of electric vehicles because of the high price of cars and limited charging stations.

“You could have gas vehicles that are very cheap to get in on the front end, and over their lifetime, they can be quite expensive to maintain,” Swanton said when asked what the rebuttal is to those who argue that the costs are too high for electric vehicles. . “The types of electric and hydrogen vehicles, you can have those that have a higher initial cost, and then you have a very good maintenance profile to go out for the rest of the life of the vehicle.

Some states, like Oklahoma. have chosen to reduce incentives for electric vehicles for consumers. Senate Bill 1267 was introduced in 2021. It sought to stop a 50% tax credit on electric vehicles and failed in committee.

Wyoming state lawmakers proposed banning future sales of new electric vehicles in a bill titled “Phaseout of New Electric Vehicle Sales by 2035,” but the resolution stalled in committee on early February

“I don’t like to see this as a political issue,” Swanton said. “That’s really an issue that there’s an environmental issue and a health issue associated with what vehicles do or combustion vehicles do. There are cost issues with all kinds of vehicles right now.”

Looking to the future

“In California, we’re making a lot of efforts to accelerate the market, but the market is also accelerating on its own, just by people looking at this technology and seeing what the positive parts of it are,” Swanton said.


Electric vehicles are becoming more popular as states move toward environmental awareness and the Biden administration pushes green transportation. As technology advances, the rest of the nation watches as California continues to expand regulations.

“And that’s something that’s happening all over the country,” Swanton added. “There are areas that have fewer drivers than we do here in California, and the acceptance or adoption of the technology is also something that is growing. And a lot of that is because of the positive attributes of the vehicle.”

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