Mandated Zero-Emissions Vehicle Standard Legislation Introduced In Congress

On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced legislation to terminate the sale of new U.S. gasoline-powered vehicles in 15 years.

The Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2020 would require that 50 percent of new passenger vehicles sales are zero-emissions vehicles (ZEV) by 2025. That federal standard would increase 5 percent each year to reach 100 percent by 2035.

The legislation has zero chance of becoming law this year but serves as a messaging piece for Democrats to take to the November elections.

Even if Democrats take back the White House and Senate, the legislation is still likely to face an uphill battle to become law.

The EPA raised concerns early this month over California’s plan to ban the sales of new gasoline and diesel-powered passenger cars by 2035, arguing that the mandate is unworkable and likely illegal.

The California ban is an ambitious step to bolster electric vehicles and slash greenhouse-gas emissions. The ban is aimed at new-car sales and will not prohibit Californians from owning or selling existing gas-powered cars.

In a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsome, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler expressed concern that the electric vehicle mandate would strain California’s already overloaded electric grid.

Wheeler questioned how California plans to handle the unprecedented increase in electricity demand that will result from the ban when the state is already experiencing rolling blackouts and seeking additional power from neighboring states.

Wheeler also said the ban is likely illegal in the wake of the Trump Administration’s recent revocation of California’s Clean Air Act waiver that allowed the state to set its own air pollution standards.

California is currently suing the Administration over the revocation. If successful, California would be the first U.S. state to ban gas- and diesel-powered vehicles. However, some states could soon follow California’s lead.

Twelve states already adopt California clean air standards (NJ, CT, WA, VT, NY, ME, RI, MA, OR, PA, MD, and DC).

The federal Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2020 which would boost the market for battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is cosponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate, and Representatives Joe Neguse (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA) Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME).

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