California regulators approved a rule today banning the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.
The move could accelerate the electric vehicle transition and reshape the nation’s auto market, but meeting that deadline will bring challenges.
The regulation requires 35 percent of new cars sold in the state to be zero-emissions by 2026. That number increases to 68 percent in 2030 and 100 percent by 2035.
Right now, EVs make up 15 percent of the state’s sales. That’s a big gap to close before the first deadline.
More EVs also mean more charging infrastructure and more electricity use, straining the state’s already-challenged power grid as it undergoes its own transition to cleaner energy.
Automakers are also already scrambling to keep up with demand, with long waiting lists of EV models. And they worry that the EV tax credit in the newly signed federal climate law could be difficult for consumers to claim because of requirements that materials be sourced from the U.S. or a nation with a U.S. free trade agreement.
‘No turning back’
Still, the state’s new rule is a big deal.
California is the only state that can regulate vehicle emissions, thanks to a provision of the federal Clean Air Act that offers it a special waiver. Other states can follow California’s rules, and some, including Washington state, New York and Massachusetts, are already poised to do so.
That’s a big chunk of the U.S. auto market going all in on the transition. California alone is one of the world’s largest economies.
Many automakers also already have EV deployment goals that mesh with California’s rule. General Motors Co. plans to sell only zero-emissions vehicles by 2035, while Volvo cars will be entirely electric by 2030.
The European Union, meanwhile, is set to implement a similar ban on new gas-powered cars by 2035.
Gas-powered cars won’t disappear altogether, since most sales are of used cars.
Zero-emissions vehicles will make up roughly half the cars on the road in California by 2035 with the new rule, said David Reichmuth of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Environmental groups are optimistic that expected investments, spurred by the state rule and federal climate law, can develop the charging infrastructure and power sources needed to meet the coming EV demand.
“Once California moves all electric, there’s no turning back nationally,” said Paul Bledsoe, a strategic adviser at the Progressive Policy Institute.
Today in POLITICO Energy’s podcast: POLITICO’s Alex Guillén breaks down the provision of the climate law on EPA authority that’s causing a stir in the legal world.
It’s Thursday — thank you for tuning in to POLITICO’s Power Switch. I’m your host, Nick Sobczyk, with help today from Timothy Cama. Arianna Skibell will be back soon. Power Switch is brought to you by the journalists behind E&E News and POLITICO Energy. Send your tips, comments, questions to [email protected] or [email protected].
Delivery drivers are at a heightened risk from extreme heat while on the job, writes Ariel Wittenberg.
An E&E News analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data found that parcel and mail drivers had the second-highest rate of heat illness between 2015 and 2021, below only construction workers.
The majority of illnesses were in workers driving for UPS and the U.S. Postal Service, two services whose delivery vehicles largely do not have air conditioning. The problem is likely to get worse as climate change fuels more intense heat.
Juley Fulcher, a worker health and safety advocate with Public Citizen, said companies should monitor trucks for dangerous temperatures. They already track drivers intensely along their routes to eliminate inefficiencies, Fulcher noted.
“If they can monitor their drivers to that extent, they can be monitoring the temperature in their trucks and giving them rest breaks and air conditioning,” she said. “The speed they are working, the heavy boxes they are lifting, all of that plus the heat makes the job very dangerous.”
Surf and our turf
Shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico worry that their industry will suffer if offshore wind projects come to the region, Heather Richards reports.
Wind turbines and transmission infrastructure could present new hazards for fishers and reduce the areas they can trawl, shrimpers said. They worry that as the federal government evaluates whether and how turbines could move in, it isn’t sufficiently considering the impact on fishing. Read more here.
Russian gas impacts
French Transport Minister Clément Beaune is calling for an investigation into whether fuel tied to oil giant TotalEnergies SE is being used by Russian’s military for jets in the war against Ukraine, writes Jules Darmanin.
The request comes after a report from Le Monde and Global Witness that said gas condensate from a field exploited by Terneftegaz JSC, a joint venture TotalEnergies participates in, was used to make kerosene that went to two Russian bases near Ukraine. Check out the story.
Canada will allow five turbines used on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and subject to a multinational dispute to be returned to Germany after maintenance, writes Wilhelmine Preussen. Read about it here.
Air conditioning? Maybe not: Demand for air conditioning is expected to grow significantly as increasing extreme heat makes summers worse without it. But other technologies, like reflective coatings on roofs, want their due, too.
ESG on defense: Investment managers are defending environmental, social and governance investing, saying the moves against it from Republicans and others can be bad for everyday Americans.
Aviation emissions: Google’s flight planning service is undercounting the carbon emissions from flights, following a recent change in its calculations.
The science, policy and politics driving the energy transition can feel miles away. But we’re all affected on an individual and communal level — from hotter days and higher gas prices to home insurance rates and food supply.
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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declined again to say whether she would sign or veto the state’s proposal to put a two-year moratorium on new fossil fuel-powered cryptocurrency mining operations.
The Interior Department predicts that a reduction in offshore drilling lease sales would boost prices and increase oil imports.
Midwestern states will need a massive generation build-out if they are to meet their 2030 clean energy goals.
That’s it for today, folks! Thanks for reading.