In a letter that is reportedly to be sent to President Biden on Monday, the two Democratic senators from California are pressing Biden to set a hard date for eliminating gas-powered passenger vehicles.
In an exclusive report, Reuters writes that Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein want Biden “to follow California’s lead and set a date by which all new cars and passenger trucks sold be zero-emission vehicles” as well as restore California’s capacity to set standards for vehicles’ emissions.
The letter also urges Biden to use the deal Ford Motor Co, Honda Motor, BMW AG and Volkswagen AG made with the state of California, writing, “We believe the national baseline should, at an absolute minimum, be built around the technical lead set by companies that voluntarily advanced their agreements with California. … California and other states need a strong federal partner.”
Although Biden has vociferously supported electric vehicles, during his presidential campaign he would not set a hard date to eliminate the sales of gas-powered vehicles. In late January, at a press conference about an executive order to expand the “Buy American” act of 1933, Biden stated, “The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles, which we’re going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America, by American workers.”
Car and Driver noted, “According to the General Services Administration, as of 2019, the government fleet has over 645,000 vehicles on the road.”
In September, California Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order calling on the state’s air resources agency to force new cars and passenger trucks sold to be zero-emission by 2035. But in October, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler warned Newsom that the order was unrealistic and possibly illegal.
Wheeler wrote: “Your recent Executive Order (EO) establishing a goal that 100 percent of new vehicle sales be zero emission by 2035 raises serious questions regarding its legality and practicality. While the EO seems mostly aspirational and on its own would accomplish very little, any attempt by the California Air Resources Board to implement sections of it may require California to request a waiver to U.S. EPA.”
“Beyond the significant questions of legality and the fact that consumer demand for the type of vehicle you would mandate has never met the aspirations of California’s political leadership, your state is already struggling to maintain reliable electricity for today’s demands,” Wheeler continued. “California’s record of rolling blackouts – unprecedented in size and scope – coupled with recent requests to neighboring states for power begs the question of how you expect to run an electric car fleet that will come with significant increases in electricity demand, when you can’t even keep the lights on today.”
“The Trump administration in March 2020 finalized a rollback of fuel economy standards to require 1.5% annual increases in efficiency through 2026,” Reuters noted.
General Motors has announced they have a goal of eliminating gasoline passenger car and truck sales by 2035. Volvo stated all of its cars will be electric by 2030. Ford’s European cars are slated to all be electric-powered by 2030.