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Flora: Newsom’s ‘utopian’ idea to phase out gas burning cars will hurt many
Heath flora 2
Assemblyman Heath Flora

Assemblyman Heath Flora, R-Ripon, protested Gov. Newsom’s executive order that directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to phase out gasoline-powered engines by 2035, saying it would hurt his district, which includes Hughson and Keyes.

The new regulation bans any new sales of gasoline-powered cars after 2035.

 “Every utopian green energy idea that comes out of the Bay Area ends up hurting those of us in the Central Valley the most,” said Flora. “They act like they care about working class communities, and then they come up with ideas like this during one of the most challenging times in our state’s history.”

This new executive order (EO) comes on the heels of an announcement that the Employment Development Department (EDD) would pause all new claims for unemployment insurance for two weeks while they address a backlog of over a million delayed UI claims stemming from the state’s six-month COVID-19 shutdown.

“For the last six months our office has been helping literally hundreds of constituents process their delayed unemployment claims while also trying to help small businesses keep their doors open,” said Flora. “Some of the only businesses still open are those related to the automobile industry, and they are barely able to survive under the existing EOs.”

CARB will be responsible for drafting the regulatory framework for this EO. Other agencies will be directed to support the development of zero-emission vehicle charging stations, and medium- and heavy-duty trucks will be mandated to be zero-emission by 2045 where feasible.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this week that California will ban the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles in 15 years, establishing an official timeline in the state’s recent bid to lead the U.S. in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

The plan, part of an executive order signed by Newsom on Wednesday, aims to phase out the sale of new passenger cars and trucks which run on gasoline by 2035 and instead encourage consumers to purchase electric vehicles. The order won’t stop people from owning gas-powered cars or from selling them on the used car market, but will end the sale of all new such vehicles. In California, the state’s population of nearly 40 million purchases one out of every 10 new cars sold in the country.

According to Newsom’s office, transportation currently accounts for more than 50 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. Gas-powered vehicles also contribute to 80 percent of smog-forming pollution and 95 percent of toxic diesel emissions.

California joins 15 countries across the globe which have also committed to phasing out gasoline-powered cars. 

“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” Newsom said. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”

Through regulations developed by the California Air Resources Board following the order, it is estimated that the plan would achieve more than a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 80 percent improvement in oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide. In addition, the order calls for operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero emission by 2045, with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage trucks. 

The order will shift the zero-emissions market into overdrive, requiring state agencies to partner with the private sector to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options. It also requires support of new and used zero-emission vehicle markets to provide broad accessibility to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians.

California is home to 34 electric vehicle companies, including Tesla Inc., and accounts for about half of the nation’s electric vehicle market. 

“We agree with Gov. Newsom that it’s time to take urgent action to address climate change,” Ford Motor Co. said in the statement. “That’s why we’re proud to stand with California in achieving meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions in our vehicles.”

Sen. Andreas Borgeas believes the executive order doesn’t address California’s “most pressing needs.”

“The state is struggling with historic wildfires, businesses shuttered, people out of work, a housing crisis and the pandemic, yet the Governor is more concerned about advancing a radical agenda than tackling relevant issues that affect all Californians,” Borgeas said. “With virtually no infrastructure to support the holistic eradication of gas vehicles, and the threat of rolling electrical blackouts, the governor has unilaterally decided to move forward without consultation from the Legislature. Governor, focus on forest management, CEQA reform and getting our economy back on track.”

The executive order also sets clear deliverables for new health and safety regulations that protect workers and communities from the impacts of oil extraction. It supports companies who transition their upstream and downstream oil production operations to cleaner alternatives and also directs the state to make sure taxpayers are not stuck with the bill to safely close and remediate former oil fields. The governor is also asking the Legislature to end the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024.

The executive order directs state agencies to develop strategies for an integrated, statewide rail and transit network, and incorporate safe and accessible infrastructure into projects to support bicycle and pedestrian options, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities.