Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin Working To Ditch State’s EV Mandate

Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin appears poised to overturn his state’s electric vehicle (EV) mandate if his party fares well in upcoming statewide elections.
Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin. By: Nick Pope, DCNF.

Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin appears poised to overturn his state’s electric vehicle (EV) mandate if his party fares well in upcoming statewide elections.

Virginia is one of 17 states that adhere to some or all of California’s vehicle emissions standards, after former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam enacted legislation binding Virginia to California’s standards prior to Youngkin’s election in 2021.

Virginia is one of only two states, along with Nevada, that has a Republican governor in office and is also tied to California’s standards, which dictate that all new car sales in Virginia must be EVs starting in 2035.

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Now Youngkin is pushing to repeal the policy in his state despite an earlier failure to do so.

“[I]t defies commonsense that Democrats in Virginia have continued to outsource decision-making on energy policy. California’s requirements for their citizens should not be a one size fits all solution for Virginia,” Macauly Porter, a spokesperson for Youngkin, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “In a partisan fashion, Virginia’s Democrats blocked Governor Youngkin’s legislative proposal this year to remove Virginia from the California model.”

In January, the state Senate’s Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee shot down a slate of Republican proposals that would have enabled the repeal the legislation that mandates adoption of California’s Clean Car standards in an 8-7 party line vote, according to the Virginia Mercury.

Youngkin had railed against the law for months before the initial effort failed, calling it “ludicrous” and deploying political capital in the narrowly-divided state legislature to pass new legislation to repeal the bill tying his state to California’s standards, according to ABC 7. Youngkin and Virginia Republicans will need to retain a House majority and gain control of the state Senate this November in order to pass legislation repealing Northam’s law given that the earlier effort to do so died in the upper chamber.

“The vote today shows that Youngkin-led attacks on Virginia’s bedrock climate laws are a dead end and that he should get on the side of making pollution progress and not stand against it,” Walton Shepherd, Virginia policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told The Associated Press after the state Senate killed the repeal effort in January.

In addition to the eventual 2035 ban on the sale of gas-powered cars, the law also effectively sets targets for EV adoption along the way. By model year 2026, 35% of all new trucks and cars sold in Virginia must be EVs, according to VPM.

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Most new EVs are luxury models with an average sale price of around $61,000, according to CNBC. That figure is nearly $12,000 more than the overall automobile industry average. In 2020, the year before Northam signed the bill, approximately 2% of new car sales in Virginia were EVs, according to Virginia Places.

When Northam signed the “Clean Cars” law in March of 2021, which passed by 53-44 and 21-15 votes in the state House and Senate respectively, he hailed the policy for “[propelling] Virginia to leadership among the states in fighting climate change” and “[advancing] environmental justice.” Numerous environmental groups also applauded Northam for enacting the bill, including the Sierra Club and Environment America.

Democrats “had signed legislation and tied Virginia to decisions that will be made in California, so not only did they pick a state that has demonstrated it has no idea how to run itself, but they abdicated their responsibility to serve Virginians,” Youngkin told Fox News in August 2022.

Other states that follow California’s vehicle emissions standards include Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, according to the California Air Resources Board. California is able to set emissions standards that are more stringent than federal ones because the Environmental Protection Agency grants it waivers to the Clean Air Act to do so, according to CNN.

The actions of Democrats in the state have “allowed Virginia to be hostage to the extreme policies of unelected bureaucrats in California,” Porter told the DCNF. “We have seen the results of the poor energy planning in California, and we will work to ensure that is not the energy future for Virginia.”

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