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California Governor Calls for Ban on All Combustion Fueled Vehicles

Last Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-79-20 that calls for sales of all new passenger cars and light trucks to be zero emission vehicles by 2035. The Executive Order also directs the Air Resources Board to adopt requirements that all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles must be zero emission vehicles by 2045 to the extent this is feasible. Drayage trucks serving the state’s ports would be subject to the requirement starting in 2035. The directive has no force of law until the Air Resources Board adopts the necessary regulations to implement the policy. California, however, has for many years had a requirement a percentage of new light duty vehicles must be zero emission and, in June of this year, adopted a similar requirement for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The state also has moved in recent years to mandate that transit agencies transition to all-electric bus fleets.

The move will likely set up another battle with the Trump Administration, which last year finalized rules that would prohibit California from mandating the sale of zero emission vehicles or regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. California and a number of other states have sued the U.S. EPA, challenging its authority to prohibit California and other states from adopting such requirements. EPA officials in recent weeks have indicated that California likely must seek a waiver to proceed with the new requirements.

The details remain unclear, including whether this program will ever come to fruition. Under a Biden Administration, if elected, it is likely the program would receive a green light from federal authorities. It is interesting that the EO provides an “out” for authorities by clarifying that the mandate on medium- and heavy-duty vehicles is subject to feasibility, suggesting that some part of sales could be exempt from the requirement. It is also not clear what role hybrid vehicles could play in such a program. NGVAmerica will be monitoring this development and working with members and associations in California to advocate for a strong role for natural gas vehicles.

The EO also calls for an end to the issuance of new permits for drilling that involves use of hydraulic fracturing. The ban, however, may require legislative action.

The full EO can be viewed HERE.