On Wednesday, September 23, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to require all new cars to be exclusively zero-emission vehicles by 2035, in order to stay ahead of the ongoing fight against climate change.
Under this new order, the California Air Resources Board would discontinue the production of any new gas-powered cars or trucks, and also require any larger, heavy-duty trucks to be zero-emission by 2045. By that time, California would officially become the first state in the country to require 100% zero-emission vehicles.
“In the next 15 years we will eliminate in the state of California the sales of internal combustion engines,” Newsom said in Sacramento moments before signing the executive order. “If you want to reduce asthma, if you want to mitigate the rise of sea level, if you want to mitigate the loss of ice sheets around the globe, then this is a policy for other states to follow.”
Newsom went on to say that transportation alone is responsible for over half of the carbon emissions in the state.
Despite this, some critics have said that Newsom’s plan would be unrealistic.
The following Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a letter addressed to Newsom that a statewide shift to electric vehicles would only strain California’s already weak electric grid.
“California’s record of rolling blackouts—unprecedented in size and scope—coupled with recent requests to neighboring states for power begs the question of how you expect to run an electric car fleet that will come with significant increases in electricity demand, when you can’t even keep the lights on today,” Mr. Wheeler wrote.
Wheeler was also skeptical that the order would even be approved by the EPA, and pointed out that the Trump administration had taken away California’s ability to establish its own standards for vehicle tailpipe emissions in 2019.
Sure enough, the White House publicly criticized the order shortly after Newsom’s announcement in Sacramento, saying that it was merely an example of too much government intervention and involvement.
In addition, Newsom called on the state legislature to ban fracking, the controversial oil extraction method that has been a hot topic of debate for the past few years.