- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 23, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom sought Wednesday to fight the state’s disastrous wildfires by phasing out gas-powered cars, signing an executive order requiring all new passenger vehicles sold by 2035 to be emissions-free.

The first-in-the-nation mandate on in-state vehicle sales is expected to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 35% as drivers switch to electric cars, which accounted last year for about 5.3% of vehicle sales in California.

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

Mr. Newsom has blamed rising atmospheric carbon dioxide for stoking years of drought, resulting in 163 million dead trees fueling the devastating wildfires that have consumed about 3.6 million acres so far in 2020.

The transportation sector accounts for about half of the state’s annual greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines,” said Mr. Newsom.

White House spokesman Judd Deere called the order “yet another example of how extreme the left has become,” warning that “President Trump won’t stand for it.”

Brian Maas, president of the California New Car Dealers Association, argued that sales of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) are limited “primarily to the wealthy” and represent “a fraction of the two million new passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks sold annually.”

“While we greatly respect the Governor’s ambition and emphasis on California leading the fight to combat climate change, we have many unanswered questions about fundamental components of his Executive Order to ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, including the implications on consumers and the state’s preparedness to take on such a directive,” said Mr. Maas.

The order also directed the California Air Resources Board to develop regulations to mandate that “all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero emission by 2045.”

Mr. Maas said that “if the policy is ultimately adopted, this will transform how Californians move about our state.”

The order required state agencies to work with companies to “accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options,” adding that Californians may still own gas-powered cars and sell them on the used-car market after 2035.

JunkScience’s Steve Milloy, a member of the Trump EPA transition team, called the order “as silly as it is unrealistic and pointless.”

He said replacing California’s gas-fueled cars with electric vehicles would stoke global cobalt and copper production, and that “many major and unaffordable changes to the entire power grid would need to be implemented.”

“In return, the weather would remain the same and managed California forests would still burn,” said Mr. Milloy. “If Californians don’t start asking what they are getting in exchange for paying higher energy prices for various green policies, they will soon be bankrupted.”

Mr. Newsom said that “California will be leading the nation on this effort,” and that 15 other nations have already acted to phase out gas-powered vehicles.

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