The Governor of Virginia Denounces California’s Strict Electric Vehicle Mandate

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Jun 07, 2024

Glenn Youngkin, the Governor of Virginia, recently declared that his state will not adhere to California’s vehicle emissions standards. The new rules mandate that all new cars sold after 2035 must be electric.

The Republican governor announced on Wednesday that the rules were a “misguided electric vehicle mandate imposed by unelected leaders nearly 3,000 miles away from the Commonwealth” of Virginia and effectively pulled out of the initiative.

Youngkin Thinks the Government Should Not Get a Say in Vehicle Purchases

Youngkinn rejects the premise that the government should decide on what type of car is best for families and individuals.

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In a press release, he stated, “The idea that the government should tell people what kind of car they can or can’t purchase is fundamentally wrong. Virginians deserve the freedom to choose which vehicles best fit the needs of their families and businesses,” he said. “The law is clear, and I am proud to announce Virginians will no longer be forced to live under this out-of-touch policy.”

The 2035 EV Sales Plan Is Meant To Benefit the Environment

The California mandate requires that all cars sold by 2035 be electric or plug-in hybrids.

A photograph of an electric vehicle plugged in to charge atop a graphic of an EV charging on the pavement

Source: Freepik

The announcement was meant to set a new standard to eliminate greenhouse gases caused by cars and trucks on the road. The EPA, along with the US Government, agreed that vast changes need to be made to meet emissions standards in the future.

Virginia Lawmakers Approved Similar Measures

In 2021, Virginia lawmakers passed a similar measure to synchronize the state’s standards for emissions regulations with the same laws passed in California.

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The California Air Resources Board introduced the official plan to phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars in the state of Virginia with a plan to gradually ban gas in 2025.

California Instituted Bans on Gas Cars

By 2026, 35% of new cars sold are required to be electric.

A California flag on a pole next to an American flag.

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Fines will be imposed for manufacturers and sales lots that do not comply with the standards. A car maker could be slapped with a $20,000 fine for each car sold over the limit.

Fears That the Mandates Will Increase the Cost of Cars

The governor’s press release noted that with rising costs associated with inflation, changing the accessibility to standard gas cars would be a disservice to struggling residents.

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The press release noted, “Virginia auto consumers and dealers could be forced to bear these costs. Not only would this leave auto dealers with less money to pay staff, offer raises, and grow their businesses, it could force many small auto dealers to permanently close their doors.”


High Gas Prices Still Don't Dissuade Consumers

Gas prices are at an all-time high in the United States. Highly populated areas like Los Angeles frequently see prices over $5 a gallon and sometimes as close as $6.

Many cars parked at a gas station in the daytime.

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However, instead of driving more demand for electric vehicles, more consumers are turning to efficient hybrid models for the benefit of saving on gas without relying solely on electricity. Even with the push by the electric car industry, EVs still only make up 26% of new cars sold.


Virginia Isn't Legally Required To Match California's Sales Targets

Attorney General Jason Miyares addressed the issue and ultimately noted that Virginia is not obligated to match the California regulations.

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Instead, the Commonwealth will adopt federal emission standards on January 1, 2025.


Youngkin Chooses To Stand up for Virginia Residents

Youngkin went on to state his reliance to adhere to federal emissions standards if it compromises the financial wellbeing of residents in his state.

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He wrote in his press release, “Thankfully the law does not bind us to their regulations. California does not control which cars Virginians buy and any thoughts that automobile manufacturers should face millions of dollars in civil penalties rather than allowing our citizens to choose their own vehicles is completely absurd.”


Environmentalists Planning To Challenge the Decision

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) made a statement challenging the decision.

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They note that Governor Youngkin’s decision could put the environment in jeopardy and plan to sue to block the decision in court.


Virginia Mirrors Florida's Decision to Change Rules on Climate Change

Last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made huge changes to state statutes to completely eliminate the phrase “climate change” from future energy decisions. The decision mirrors the sentiments expressed in Virginia.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stands on a stage in front of a large American flag

Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Although changes in regulations and buying behaviour can disrupt consumers’ lives, they can also help fight against the environmental destruction caused by cars and trucks.


Unique Challenges in California Should Not Be Focused on in Virginia

The Virginia Governor stated that the unique environmental challenges posed in California should not be Virginia’s concern.

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The regulations imposed by Governor Gavin Newsom intend to take charge of the massive climate change issues faced in California. Ultimately, Youngkin decided that Virginia’s laws should not be determined by issues in other states.