California Senators Urge Biden To Set Timeline for All New Cars To Be Zero-Emission Vehicles

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, The Hill

California’s two U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, are urging President Joe Biden establish a firm deadline for U.S. automakers to end the sales of new cars powered by fossil fuels.

In a March 19 letter to Biden, the Democratic senators called on the president “to follow California’s lead and set a date by which all new cars and passenger trucks sold will be zero-emissions vehicles.” 

In California, the sale of all new passenger cars and trucks powered by gasoline or diesel will be prohibited by 2035, according to an executive order signed last September by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Feinstein and Padilla believe the US needs to get tougher in order to accelerate the transition to zero-emissions cars.

With the shift to electric vehicles well underway, the senators said many automakers have the tools and processes in place already to phase out gas-powered cars and would be able to meet a realistic deadline with ease.

“The automobile industry has shown it has the ingenuity and resources to reimagine our transportation systems in consumer-friendly ways,” they wrote. “We urge your administration to take advantage of this effort and make real progress in coordination with states, like California, that share your goals to aggressively fight climate change by eliminating harmful pollution from the transportation sector.”

Both senators also want Biden to fully restore California’s ability to set its own greenhouse gas and zero-emission vehicle standards. The Trump administration had challenged California’s regulations, which were among the toughest in the country and stronger than the ones prescribed by the US Environmental Protection Agency. 

Several carmakers, including Ford Motor Company (NYSE:  F), Honda Motor Company (NYSE:  HMC), Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (OTC US:  BMWYY) and Volkswagen (OTC US:  VWAGY), had reached a deal with California to voluntarily comply with the state’s regulations.

Some traditional automakers agreed with Trump’s efforts to strip California of its right to set its own standards, although General Motors Company (NYSE:  GM) dropped its support soon after the 2020 general election.

The senators said that, “at an absolute minimum,” the new federal regulations should follow the agreement between California and those automakers as a template for national fuel economy and emissions standards.

Under that deal, fuel economy will improve by 3.7% each year. The Trump administration slashed requirements to just 1.5% annually, down from the Obama administration’s goal of a 5% improvement each year from automakers. 

The Biden administration has not yet revealed its plans on fuel economy and vehicle emissions regulations, but the president has already taken steps to increase the number of electric cars on the road.

Shortly after taking office, Biden set a goal to electrify the federal government’s 650,000-car fleet.
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