Many states, including NC’s neighbor to the north, have linked their laws to California’s clean car standards
California’s decision to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars beginning in 2035 will also halt the sale of such vehicles in Virginia due to a 2021 law linking the commonwealth to the western state’s vehicle emissions standards, state attorneys have concluded.
In a Thursday email obtained by the Virginia Mercury, Assistant Attorney General Michael Jagels concluded that Virginia is “bound” by the California decision because the state chose to be “statutorily and regulatorily aligned with California.”
Decoupling from California’s path would require “an amendment or repeal of the mandating legislation,” Jagels wrote.
A senior Republican confirmed separately that attorneys with the state’s legislative branch had reached the same conclusion.
The ban, which if approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wouldn’t take effect for 13 years, would not impact used car sales or prohibit anyone from driving older-model vehicles with internal combustion engines.
While Republicans are likely to seize on the issue as a potent talking point in the upcoming elections, the linkage of Virginia’s vehicle emissions policy with California’s is little surprise to either the state’s environmental groups or its auto dealers.
In 2021, Virginia Democrats pushed through legislation to adopt vehicle emissions standards and electric car sales targets set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as part of the party’s broad climate change agenda. The law, which has been hotly opposed by state Republicans who tried but failed to repeal it in 2022, was supported by the influential Virginia Automobile Dealers Association.
Because of federal law establishing a two-year transition period, the California standards won’t be effective in Virginia until early 2024, but once in force will bring Virginia in line with 14 other states and Washington, D.C. that have decided to follow the Golden State’s path. Read more