Vermont requires zero-emissions new cars by 2035 — because California says so

Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

Until recently, conforming to California emissions regulations meant adopting the state’s higher-than-the-feds MPG standards. But that was before Gov. Gavin Newsom’s September 2020 mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035.

By Guy Page

As goes California, so goes Vermont. According to the requirements of Vermont state law, Vermont must ban the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035 — because that’s what California is doing, too.

A 2006 state law commits Vermont to follow California state emissions standards. “No new motor vehicle shall be sold or leased in the State unless a vehicle emissions label that meets [California emissions standards] is affixed to the vehicle,” 10 VSA 579 (d) states.

14 other states (including every other New England state except New Hampshire) decided likewise, in an effort to shape federal and industry emissions standards.

Vermont’s legislative decision to hitch its emissions wagon to the Golden State’s star was backed up by the courts in 2007 and also codified as a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulation a year later under Gov. James Douglas. The DEC website states that the Vermont Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Program ensures that new vehicles sold in Vermont are “the cleanest available by requiring that new vehicles sold in Vermont meet California emissions standards.”

Until recently, conforming to California emissions regs meant adopting the state’s higher-than-the-feds MPG standards. But that was before Gov. Gavin Newsom’s September 2020 “mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035.” This regulation would effectively ban the sale of all internal combustion engine vehicles.

According to Newsom’s September, 2020 statement:

  • the California Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035.
  • the Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero emission by 2045 where feasible, with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage (“port of entry”) trucks.
  • To ensure needed infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles, the order requires state agencies, in partnership with the private sector, to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options.
  • New and used zero-emission vehicle dealers must provide broad accessibility to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians.
  • The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the used car market.

New England consumer advocacy groups, including Vermont’s Ethan Allen Institute, are pushing back against California’s aggressive move to essentially wipe out internal combusion transportation. “In response to California’s executive order, a new multi-state coalition – represented by the Ethan Allen Institute in Vermont –  has formed to raise awareness about these California-derived regulations and the ICE ban that will negatively impact most of New England,” a statement from the EAI said. A press conference has been called for 11 am tomorrow.

EAI President Meg Hansen offered the following statement this afternoon:

“First, Vermont is not a colony of California. It is anti-democratic and irrational for Vermont lawmakers to cede regulatory authority over our vehicle standards to another state. In 2000, The State of Vermont adopted California’s Low-Emission Vehicle criteria and Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulations. Minimizing air pollution by regulating tailpipe emissions is one thing, but imposing a blanket ban on the dominant vehicle technology is another.

“Second, technology bans and mandates cannot succeed in the absence of affordable alternatives. Banning gasoline-powered vehicles cannot and will not force a transition to zero-emission vehicles because ZEV technology is not affordable or easily available at present. Electric vehicles (EV) have miles to go before they can compete in the market without the aid of government subsidies and tax credits. Real solutions would focus on improving EV technology, which involves giving the process the time it needs and the space to fail and evolve. Commanding that ICE vehicles become obsolete by 2030 or 2035 achieves nothing but political points.

“Finally, in the face of record high gas prices and inflation, Vermont policymakers need to expand choices and not limit our ability to commute to work and put food on the table. The vast majority of Americans don’t have disposable income to ride inflation waves and stick to the (Russian) man – as many in positions of power and influence are demanding. Speaking of moral imperatives, we should not implement policies that will make the average Vermonter poorer.”

Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

12 thoughts on “Vermont requires zero-emissions new cars by 2035 — because California says so

  1. I knew our lawmakers were dumb but I didn’t realize they were California-dumb.

    Great idea. Let’s force our hard-working farmers to scrap 100s of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and purchase brand-new electric farming equipment. They probably won’t have the tools or skills to fix the new electric stuff. Where is the trade-off for them?

    And where will all of this additional electricity come from? Turbines? No. We can’t have those. Too noisy and unsightly. Small farmers already spend thousands per month on electric bills.

    Another regulatory slap in the face and wallets of our citizens. I don’t remember voting for this.

  2. I would strongly suggest all the communist who think this is a good idea just move
    to CA. and leave Vermont to the pre 70’s crowd…
    CA needs their tax support as all the sane people are beating feet out of
    there. Same for NY who’s laws we don’t need to be implementing.
    This is all over a 0.03% portion of a problem that could be rectified by
    planting more trees..

  3. In the forties due to a wartime determined focus of manufacturers there were not enough cars to satisfy demand. To prevent profiteering and scarcity price escalation the government imposed price controls on new cars. So, the profit oriented dealers would put some mileage on the newly delivered cars and sell them as “used” cars – upon which there were no price controls. “The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the used car market.” Could make it profitable to buy cars out of state, drive them into California and sell them. About a half century ago a friend of mine would vacation with his relatives in Costa Rica. He’d profit by selling his car there, come home and buy another one – to do it again next year. We live in a Swiftian world governed by dogmatic lunatics, e.g. shutting down Keystone construction and surrendering the diplomatic and economic power of being energy independent.

  4. Let’s start a list of the elected representatives who own and drive EVs year round. Let’s ridicule the hypocrites among them.

  5. You need to start fighting this right now if you haven’t already. Where do these people get off?

  6. So we are ruled by people that are not accountable to us who take orders from a far away state that is a mess ?
    Is this a communist rule?

    • Indeed we are. The Vermont legislature has been beholden to special interest for decades. It seems that most of this current legislature are likewise prioritizing their attention to those that line their pockets.
      The link to California Air regulations was established in 2006 by the legislature. We are stuck with this until we elect a legislature that is accountable to the constituent, not the campaign dollar.
      Placating the environmental evangelist, with legislation like this and the “heating credits” now being discussed does nothing for the constituent- but does get votes and cash for campaigns.
      Unintended Consequences should not be an acceptable excuse by any government office holder.

  7. Just who ARE our legislators working for?
    Elephant in the room – cuz it sure ain’t the rest of us hard scrabble plebs eking it out to live simply so we can simply live.
    These guys are putting more and more blind alleys into the rat maze, making it more and more complicated to just get up in the morning, navigate the day, and get a good rest at night.
    How are Vermonter’s health impacted by these WORRISOME policies?
    How is VT tied to CA in carbon credits?

    • Just who ARE our legislators working for?

      The wind generator manufacturers and installers. The heat pump manufacturers and installers. The electric car manufacturers and charging station installers. And, to a large extent, the electric utility companies and the solar collector manufacturers and installers… to name a few.

      Just look at the guys who sold Sun Common for $40 million after, as VIPRG board members, they lobbied the legislature to subsidize solar energy.

      Why else do you think Hydro Quebec power is so hush-hush? GMP pays about 20 cents per kwh for solar power while Hydro Quebec has offered to sell Vermonters all the power they need for the wholesale price of 6 cents per kwh.

      As always, just follow the money.

      “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
      – an observation generally ascribed to Alexis de Tocqueville

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