Over one-third of U.S. states follow, by law, California’s vehicle emission standards and thus must ban internal combustion vehicles beginning 2035.
The federal Clean Air Act, of 1970, requires states to follow federal vehicle emission standards unless, under Section 177, they opt to follow California’s emission standards.
California Air Resources Board voted to ban gas-powered car sales entirely no later than 2035, in an August 25 vote. So, the 17 states that notified the Environmental Protection Agency that they chose to follow California standards, must follow the Golden State’s lead.
The Epoch Times further reported:
New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, Virginia, and New Mexico have all chosen to opt into California’s standards instead of federal requirement.
Moreover, depending on the legalese of each state’s regulations, if California implements a specific condition, then the state tied to California’s standards must follow suit.
For example, under then-Gov. Ralph Northam (D), Virginia tied itself to California’s emission standards when it passed House Bill 1965, which directed Virginia’s State Air Pollution Control Board to “adopt and enforce” Section 177 of the Clean Air Act.
On Aug. 11, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed House Bill 5060, which essentially dictated that if California passed a fossil-fuel vehicle ban, Massachusetts would follow suit.
In 2020, Washington passed Senate Bill 5811, which states, “The department of ecology shall adopt rules to implement the motor vehicle emission standards of the state of California including the zero emission vehicle program, and shall amend the rules from time to time, to maintain consistency with the California motor vehicle emission standards.”
Washington state’s law requires it to institute a gas-powered vehicle ban precisely like California’s—something Gov. Jay Inslee (D) supports and described as “a critical milestone in our climate fight.”
In 2018, Vermont updated its Air Pollution Control Regulations.
The regulations state, “No person, including a manufacturer or dealer, shall deliver for sale or lease … a 2000 or subsequent model-year passenger car or light-duty truck; or a 2004 or subsequent model-year medium-duty vehicle in Vermont unless the vehicle is California-certified criteria.”
The “California-certified criteria” include specific vehicle emission standards, meaning Vermont will follow California’s gas-powered vehicle ban.
In 2004, Gov. John Rowland (R-Conn) signed a law tying Connecticut to California. Still, the law allows for “wiggle room,” and officials hedged when asked if Connecticut would ban gas-powered vehicles.
“[California standards] won’t be enforceable here until we’ve actually gone through the process of updating our regulations but, yes we are required to do that as are a number of other states that have followed the California standards for a number of years,” said Shannon Laun, the director of the Conservation Law Foundation of Connecticut.
Some states are experiencing buyer’s remorse about their decision to follow California’s lead and are exploring legal options to diverge from their West Coast leader.
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