A bipartisan coalition of governors from 12 U.S. states urged President Joe Biden to back selling new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.
A letter published Wednesday calls on Biden to set requirements “to ensure that all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold have zero emissions by 2035 at the latest, with important milestones along the path to improvement.”
The governors, including California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and Massachusetts’ Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, also urged the president to put the nation on a course toward 100% zero-emission sales of new medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045.
They claim that by setting “a straightforward regulatory course to ensure that all U.S. sold vehicles are zero-emission, we can eventually clear the air and generate high-road jobs.”
“Rapid movement towards potential zero-emission transport would protect the health of all communities,” reads the document, also signed by the Governors of Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.
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Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure and job strategy include an investment of $174 billion in the electric vehicle (EV) industry, including tax credits and incentives to create a “global network” of 500,000 charging stations by 2030, but the plan does not call for the phasing-out of gas-powered passenger cars by a certain date.
“The proposed investment in the American Jobs Plan can be further leveraged by a strong regulatory system, allowing the American-made zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) industry to flourish,” the letter says.
Governors added that the bill should provide “substantial support for state expenditure on charging and fueling facilities.”
California said it intended to end sales by 2035 of new gas-powered passenger cars and trucks. Newsom also directed the California Air Resources Board to establish legislation requiring all new cars and passenger trucks to be “where feasible” zero-emission vehicles by 2045.
Newsom is now facing a recall campaign in the midst of growing public outrage over COVID-19-related health orders that shuttered state schools and companies, as well as a huge fraud scandal over unemployment benefits. He faced widespread criticism after not following the pandemic guidelines he set out at a restaurant.
Major automakers worldwide say electric vehicles will overtake their industry in the years ahead. General Motors, the Detroit automaker pushing aggressively into EVs, set a January target of selling electric-only cars by 2035 and being carbon-neutral in both its global goods and operations by 2040.
Volvo said its car line-up would be fully electric by 2030, while Ford said 100% of its passenger vehicle range will be all-electric by 2030.
Unlike the U.S., EV sales have taken off in Europe and China, mainly due to far-reaching emission controls and government incentives. Stricter environmental standards force the industry to sell more electric vehicles.
Recent opinion polls show that a significant majority of Americans would consider an EV if it cost less, if there were more charging stations in the country, and if more models were available.
A recent survey by market research firm Ipsos showed a majority (52%) of U.S. citizens agree that electric vehicles are instrumental in fighting climate change, and 46% agree that policymakers should raise tax incentives for buyers.
But the president of the United Auto Workers union, Rory Gamble, expressed caution about the transition to full-electric cars, arguing that it requires less workers to produce them than gas-powered vehicles, Reuters wrote. Gamble said, “Workers suffer unfairly if we don’t get it right,” the outlet said.
Last month, Gamble said the U.S. must ensure the transition to electric vehicles “is safe, efficient, and generates quality union-wage employment and consumer demand flexible, not depending on a one-size-fits-all solution,” Reuters reported.
Democratic lawmakers also introduced on Wednesday legislation that would spend $25 billion to turn the nation’s fleet of gasoline-and diesel-powered school buses into electric vehicles, targeting a portion of Biden’s infrastructure strategy to improve child health.
School buses make up 90% of the nation’s overall bus fleet, normally carrying about 25 million children every day. Emissions from diesel engines may lead to children’s respiratory diseases, studies have been found and related to poor academic results.
The bill, led by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., will approve federal grant money for 10 years, with 40% committed to replacing school buses serving predominantly non-white, poorer neighborhoods.
The law aims to expand on this week’s initiative by the Biden administration to encourage electrification of school buses, which the president sees as a significant step in addressing climate change and economic inequities.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted their planned $45 billion in infrastructure investment to promote this week’s introduction of zero-emission rail and school buses. Harris visited a North Carolina bus factory on Monday, urging $20 billion in investment to help turn the nation’s 500,000 school buses into electricity.
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