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Youngkin pulls Virginia out of electric vehicle mandate

Electric vehicle being charged
Photo via Shutterstock
Electric vehicle being charged

Virginia will no longer follow a mandate that would have required every car sold to be an electric vehicle by 2035, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Wednesday.

The General Assembly voted to adopt the standards in 2021 with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of gas-powered vehicles on Virginia’s roadways. The standards took effect this year, but Youngkin said Virginia will revert to less strict federal standards for emissions Jan. 1, 2025.

“Once again, Virginia is declaring independence — this time from a misguided electric vehicle mandate imposed by unelected leaders nearly 3,000 miles away from the Commonwealth (in California),” Youngkin said in the news release.

The stricter standards for emissions were created in California because, under the Clean Air Act, California is the only state allowed to create different standards. If other states want stricter rules on greenhouse gasses from cars, they have to adopt California’s.

Virginia was one of 14 states — and the only one in the South — to adopt the rules.

Republicans have unsuccessfully attempted to repeal the standards several times since 2021.

Youngkin’s announcement cited a legal opinion from Attorney General Jason Miyares.

Miyares argued the state is not legally obligated to follow the latest iteration of the Advanced Clean Cars regulations, set to take effect in 2025. The state legislature adopted the Advanced Clean Cars I regulation in 2021.

The 2025 rules state that 35% of vehicles sold should be zero-emission by 2026, and 100% should be zero-emission by 2035.

The standards only apply to manufacturers, not consumers or car dealers.

Youngkin’s news release incorrectly claims that under the, rules the government would tell people what kind of car they can and can’t purchase.

Virginians would not be required to buy electric cars; they could hold onto the gas-powered cars they own or buy used ones after 2035. The goal of the regulations is to scale down emissions from personal cars by increasing the number of electric vehicles on the roads.

In 2022, there were 40,000 electric vehicles registered in the state, more than double the number in 2020.

The electric vehicle mandate is the second climate program Youngkin has pulled Virginia out of: In 2023, Youngkin and the State Air Pollution Control Board removed the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The world changes fast.

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