Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler warned California Gov. Gavin Newsom that his recent executive order to ban sales of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035 is unrealistic, and possibly illegal.
Wheeler sent the warning to the Democratic governor in a letter on Monday. The EPA head said that Newsom’s order seemed “mostly aspirational,” but warned that following through with parts of the order would first require permission from the federal government.
“Your recent Executive Order (EO) establishing a goal that 100 percent of new vehicle sales be zero emission by 2035 raises serious questions regarding its legality and practicality,” Wheeler began. “While the EO seems mostly aspirational and on its own would accomplish very little, any attempt by the California Air Resources Board to implement sections of it may require California to request a waiver to U.S. EPA.”
“Beyond the significant questions of legality and the fact that consumer demand for the type of vehicle you would mandate has never met the aspirations of California’s political leadership, your state is already struggling to maintain reliable electricity for today’s demands,” Wheeler continued. “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.”
Wheeler pushed Newsom to solve California’s power and emissions issues through cutting regulations rather than adding to them.
“By setting realistic goals and maintaining a comprehensive awareness of impacts to the economy, we have achieved tangible environmental progress while improving the lives and livelihoods of our citizenry. I urge you to step away from commitments to singular technologies,” Wheeler said. “While it is tempting for federal or state agencies to regulate with a particular technology in mind, it is far more productive to provide innovators the freedom to develop the technologies of tomorrow.”
In a letter, the U.S. EPA administrator tells Newsom that his executive order mandating only new electric car sales in California by 2035 may be illegal and questions the feasibility of the increase demand in electricity "when you can't even keep the lights on today." pic.twitter.com/f3piV4UtZe
— Alexei Koseff (@akoseff) September 28, 2020
Newsom signed an executive order on Sept. 23 with the goal of banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles within 15 years to cut down on air pollution and reach the state’s goals for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” Newsom said in a statement at the time. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”
Some California lawmakers criticized the governor’s announcement.
As The Daily Wire reports:
The governor’s executive order received pushback from Democratic Assemblymember Jim Cooper, who pointed out how electric vehicles are inaccessible to most Californians.
“The EV’s pictured in today’s signing of the EO cost more than $50k each. How will my constituents afford an EV? They can’t. They currently drive 11-year-old vehicles. This doesn’t even take into account the strain an all electric vehicle fleet will have on our state electric grid,” tweeted Cooper.