California is phasing out gas-powered auto sales; other states may follow

A growing number of states appear on the verge of adopting California's car sales mandate.(Source: CNN/KGO/NISSAN)
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 11:08 AM MST
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(CNN) - California made history last month when regulators agreed to ban the sale of new gasoline-fueled cars by 2035, and because the state is the largest auto market in the country, the measure could lead to a major shift across the country.

More than a dozen states could be on the verge of adopting the same unprecedented car sales mandate.

“If that group of states that tends to follow California’s lead were do so with this as well, it would be roughly 30 percent of the US would be living somewhere where there would be this requirement,” said Asha Weinstein Agrawal of Mineta Transportation Institute.

Currently, there are 17 states that already follow California’s car emission standards, at least in part.

And experts said once the mandate is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s likely they’ll apply their rule, which requires that by 2035, all new vehicles sold in the state must be electric, hydrogen powered, or at least plug-in hybrid.

“We will move forward to green and decarbonize our vehicle fleet,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Experts said under the federal Clean Air Act, states must follow the federal government’s vehicle emission standards or choose to adopt California’s stricter requirements.

A growing number of states appear to be leaning toward the second option, including Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Vermont.

Critics of the measure argue it raises big concerns around issues like charging infrastructure, mineral availability, supply chain issues and vehicle pricing.

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act aims to help lower prices by giving buyers of passenger vehicles assembled in North America a $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax incentive.

“If you install an electric vehicle charging station in your home, you can also get a tax credit,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said.