California to reduce reliance of fossil fuels, according to governor’s executive order

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he will aggressively move the state further away from its reliance on climate change-causing fossil fuels while retaining and creating jobs and spurring economic growth – he issued an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035 and additional measures to eliminate harmful emissions from the transportation sector.

The transportation sector is responsible for more than half of all of California’s carbon pollution, 80 percent of smog-forming pollution and 95 percent of toxic diesel emissions – all while communities in the Los Angeles Basin and Central Valley see some of the dirtiest and most toxic air in the country.

“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Newsom. “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.”

Following the order, the California Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035 – a target which would achieve more than a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 80 percent improvement in oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide. In addition, the Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero emission by 2045 where feasible, with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage trucks. To ensure needed infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles, the order requires state agencies, in partnership with the private sector, to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options. It also requires support of new and used zero-emission vehicle markets to provide broad accessibility to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians. The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the used car market.

California will be leading the nation in this effort – joining 15 countries that have already committed to phase out gasoline-powered cars and using our market power to push zero-emission vehicle innovation and drive down costs for everyone.

By the time the new rule goes into effect, zero-emission vehicles will almost certainly be cheaper and better than the traditional fossil fuel powered cars. The upfront cost of electric vehicles are projected to reach parity with conventional vehicles in just a matter of years, and the cost of owning the car – both in maintenance and how much it costs to power the car mile for mile – is far less than a fossil fuel burning vehicle.

The executive order sets clear deliverables for new health and safety regulations that protect workers and communities from the impacts of oil extraction. It supports companies who transition their upstream and downstream oil production operations to cleaner alternatives. It also directs the state to make sure taxpayers are not stuck with the bill to safely close and remediate former oil fields. To protect the health and safety of our communities and workers, the governor is also asking the legislature to end the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024.

The executive order directs state agencies to develop strategies for an integrated, statewide rail and transit network, and incorporate safe and accessible infrastructure into projects to support bicycle and pedestrian options, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Following is a statement from Bob Keefe, executive director of the national nonpartisan business group E2:

“This is good news for our environment but also good news for our economy.

“Companies that make electric and other zero-emission vehicles employed more than 266,000 Americans at the end of last year – including nearly 41,000 Californians. Leadership like this will create even more jobs, while also addressing climate change and the economic costs that come with it.”

According to E2 research:

  • 266,368 Americans worked in clean vehicles jobs nationwide at the end of 2019.
  • 40,627 Californians worked in clean vehicles jobs in California at the end of 2019,
  • 35,116 clean vehicles jobs were lost nationwide between March-August due to the COVID-19 economic meltdown.
  • In 2019, electric vehicles were CA’s 2nd most valuable export, worth over $7 billion in revenue.

E2 got its start in California 20 years ago when a group of business leaders banded together to support California’s groundbreaking clean cars standard – the world’s first greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions legislation. The state’s shift to phase out all gas-powered vehicles is a logical  next step, according to Keefe.

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