With a recent executive order, California is the first state in the nation to commit to ending the sale of fossil fuel–powered vehicles. The order also directs the expedited regulation and closure of oil extraction and production facilities.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on September 23 calling for a statewide transition away from fossil fuels as part of his effort to address climate change. The executive order directs state agencies to take concrete steps to phase out gas and diesel-powered passenger cars and trucks, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, and off-road vehicles, and to work on shutting down and repurposing oil and gas extraction and production facilities in the state. Citing the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollutants, Governor Newsom’s order commits California to a goal of 100% zero-emission new passenger cars and trucks by 2035. The executive order also states that, “where feasible,” California will move to 100% zero-emission drayage trucks and off-road vehicles by 2035 and 100% zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045.
Governor Newsom’s order directs various state and local agencies to begin formulating regulations and strategies to transition away from reliance on fossil fuels. Specifically, it calls for the following:
California is the first state in the nation to commit to ending the sale of fossil fuel–powered vehicles. Given California’s size and its historic leadership in setting statutory and regulatory air quality standards, this move may signal a new phase in the implementation of climate change–related regulations and zero-emissions goals. This executive action will also likely tee up additional issues regarding California’s Clean Air Act waiver.
While such action is likely to be opposed by the current administration—earlier this year California was stripped of its ability to set its own vehicle emissions and mileage standards as well as the mandate to produce more zero-emissions vehicles, a decision currently the subject of litigation—California appears undaunted in moving forward with its carbon neutral strategy. The true impact of the executive order will depend on the precise action California agencies take and likely subsequent challenges, but automotive, oil and gas, and other industries should continue to closely monitor the forthcoming regulatory developments.
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David K. Brown
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