RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican leaders in Virginia said Friday they want to change the law so the state no longer follows California’s stringent rules for vehicle emissions.
Virginia is currently on a path toward adopting California’s new rules for transitioning to zero-emission vehicles because of 2021 legislation that involved adopting the West Coast state’s emissions standards, attorneys and state officials said this week. The legislation, intended to help address climate change, was a top priority of environmental advocates and passed at a time when Democrats were in full control of Virginia’s government.
But Republicans in the House of Delegates, who opposed the legislation and now control that chamber, and GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Friday they would push to unlink Virginia’s standards.
“House Republicans will advance legislation in 2023 to put Virginians back in charge of Virginia’s auto emission standards and its vehicle marketplace. Virginia is not, and should not be, California,” House Speaker Todd Gilbert said in a statement.
Youngkin said he was “already at work to prevent this ridiculous edict from being forced on Virginians.”
California regulators on Thursday approved a plan requiring all new cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the state to run on electricity or hydrogen by 2035, with one-fifth allowed to be plug-in hybrids. The policy doesn’t ban cars that run on gas, allowing drivers to keep their existing cars or buy used ones.
The policy approved by the California Air Resources Board is the world’s most stringent set of rules for transitioning to electric vehicles. It will require new charging infrastructure and a more robust energy grid, and is likely to reshape the U.S. auto market.
Virginia is among 17 states that have adopted some or all of California’s tailpipe emission standards that are stricter than federal rules. California, the nation’s most populous state, has had the authority to set its own for decades under a waiver from the federal Clean Air Act.
Victoria LaCivita, a spokeswoman for Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares, said in a statement that the 2021 law bound Virginia to California’s regulations and that Miyares is hopeful the General Assembly repeals it.