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Calif. governor bans new gasoline car sales by 2035, orders EV charging buildout

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Speaking in Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 23, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom says "We have to deliver more than
proposals and promises well into the future."
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence

Citing the transportation sector's majority share of California's greenhouse gas emissions amid the escalating climate crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 23 issued an executive order effectively banning the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2035. Newsom's order will also require zero-emission medium- to heavy-duty vehicles by 2045 "everywhere feasible" and charge state agencies with ensuring the buildout of sufficient electric-vehicle charging infrastructure.

"We are experiencing unprecedented weather," Newsom said during a media briefing, pointing to the crushing heatwave and recent wildfires that have consumed roughly 3.7 million acres, a combination that triggered widespread power outages. "So as a consequence we have to deliver more than platitudes. We have to deliver more than proposals and promises well into the future. We've got to deliver in the application of our ideals."

The electrification of transportation is an "economic opportunity to transform our economy" and chance to bring manufacturing and "green collar jobs" to California, Newsom added. "This is the next big global industry and California wants to dominate it."

While the governor applauded the progress on electric and other zero-emission vehicles by Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Tesla Inc. and other automakers, he acknowledged that California's contentious drive to set its own vehicle standards that go beyond federal rules has split the automotive industry.

"There's some automobile manufacturers that don't [approve] and they are pushing back against California's leadership," he said. But "they are on the wrong side of history."

Mixed reviews

Responses from the automotive industry, environmental groups and power suppliers were mixed.

Neither mandates nor bans will build a thriving EV market, according to John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group that includes more than two dozen global car and technology companies.

"What builds successful markets is widespread stakeholder engagement: a combination of efforts by federal, state, and local governments, as well as automakers, dealers, utilities, hydrogen providers, electric infrastructure providers, builders, and others," Bozzella said in an emailed statement.

California must go much further to boost annual electric vehicle sales from less than 10% of the market currently, he added: "It will require increased infrastructure, incentives, fleet requirements, building codes, and much more."

Clean Power Alliance, a community choice aggregator that procures power for roughly three million customers in Southern California, applauded the executive order and committed to launching a new program to increase the number of EV charging stations in the region.

"We will continue to expand the supply of renewable energy and energy storage so that these vehicles can be powered by reliable, pollution-free energy," Clean Power Alliance Executive Director Ted Bardacke said in an email.

State regulators have already authorized utilities in the state to spend roughly $1 billion on charging infrastructure.

Newsom's order is "an important first step to help move further away from the fossil fuels that have created this worldwide crisis," added Kathryn Phillips, director of the Sierra Club's California chapter, in a statement. The environmental group recently called for Newsom to go faster in requiring 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030 as part of a package of recommendations that also included accelerating the state's 100% zero-carbon power target to 2030 from 2045.

"There's a lot the governor can do now without having to get new authority from the legislature," Phillips said in a recent interview. "The bottom line is he has a chance to be bold and he ought to use it."