As reported here, in late August California voted to ban the sale of all new gas or diesel powered cars and trucks in the Golden State as of 2035. However, there are intermediary steps to gradually force out the sale of such vehicles, beginning in 2026.
What is surprising many Virginians, however, is the fact that this ban automatically applies to ALL residents of the Old Dominion.
Here is the reason. During February 2021, while the US was reeling from its twelfth month of Covid and related lockdowns, and three months after the contentious, anomaly-laden 2020 elections, Virginia Democrats still held control of the top three statewide offices, the House of Delegates, and state Senate. Using that position, the General Assembly quickly passed many bills that Democrats favored and Gov. Ralph Northam then signed them into law.
Early 2021 was a challenging time for almost everyone and will probably go down as a dark time in the history of our country. With the unique challenges of Covid, controversial vaccine and lockdown mandates, the unprecedented riot at the US Capitol, unanswered questions about election integrity, children out of school, adults out of work, supply-chain breakdowns, Big Tech censorship, etc., most people were probably doing their best just to hold themselves and their families together. Few had the mental or emotional bandwidth to pay attention to what the politicians were doing in Richmond.
Thus, one example of legislation from that period that most Virginians are just now realizing was called House Bill (HB) 1965: State Pollution Control Board; low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program.
In sum, this law stated that whatever automobile emissions standards California set would then automatically apply to Virginia’s 8.6 million residents, despite the fact that California is 3,000 miles and three time zones away.
This bill passed the House of Delegates on February 2, 2021 by a solid partisan 55-44 margin. A YES vote was to force Virginians to follow all current and future California automobile emissions regulations, while a NO vote was to not to that. Among Roanoke area delegates, Salam “Sam” Rasoul (D) representing Roanoke City voted YES, while Chris Head (R) representing parts of Roanoke and Botetourt voted NO. You can see the vote tallies here.
In the state Senate, the bill passed 21-15. Sen. John Edwards (D-21st District) voted YES and Sen. David Suetterlein (R-19th District) voted NO. Three senators did not vote. You can see that tally here.
In keeping with our mission to keep the community informed and support the diffusion of knowledge, The Roanoke Star reached out to the offices of Senators Edwards and Suetterlein and Delegates Rasoul and Head asking if they had any statement on Virginia vehicle owners now being tied to California regulations and if they would also answer these questions:
3. Since electric vehicles are so expensive, how are people on a budget or fixed income supposed to be able to buy a new electric car? Or how can they pay for repairs, such as a replacement battery for a Chevy Volt which can cost up to $30,000?
“During the 2021 General Assembly Session, the Democratic majority in both the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate passed a myriad of poor, harmful, and incomprehensible legislation. The bill tying Virginia car sales to standards set by California is just one example of how the prior Democratic majority rammed through damaging policies along party line votes. I voted against the bill then and I remain absolutely opposed to this horrible policy now. The harmful impact of this legislation was further illustrated by the recent decision of the California Air Resources Board to ban the sale of gas-powered cars in California—and by extension Virginia—as of 2035.
This Democratic-led legislation was poorly conceived from the beginning for several reasons. Primarily, this legislation foolishly cedes Virginia’s power to regulate business within its own borders. It is utterly incomprehensible for Virginia legislators to pass legislation requiring that Virginia follow policies set by another state without any input whatsoever as to how those policies are made. We in the General Assembly are elected to make laws for our fellow Virginians, not to abdicate that power to legislators in other states.
It is also out of touch with the realities of working Virginians. The current cost of electric vehicles places a significant burden on our citizens, especially in our part of the Commonwealth where we need affordable transportation to get to work, to get our kids to school, and to live our lives.
Additionally, the infrastructure of the EV charging stations does not currently exist to support such a radical and ridiculous shift. There might be plenty of charging stations for folks living in Northern Virginia, Richmond, and the Tidewater area, but out here in the western portion of Virginia there are far fewer opportunities for someone to charge an electric vehicle.
Ultimately, this law hurts Virginians and businesses across the Commonwealth. We must repeal this harmful policy and I stand ready to support legislation to do just that.”
Governor Youngkin and Lieutenant Governor Sears have also declared their intention to work legislatively to overturn this mandate.
– Scott Dreyer