Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin

Virginia Reclaims Automotive Freedom: Farewell To California’s Electric Vehicle Mandate

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin
Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin

In a bold move that champions the rights of Virginia’s citizens, Governor Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares have announced the end of the California electric vehicle (EV) mandate in the Commonwealth.

This decision, grounded in a meticulous legal analysis, empowers Virginians to choose the vehicles that best suit their needs, free from the dictates of a distant state.

The story begins in 2021 when the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation authorizing the state’s Air Board to adopt California’s “Advanced Clean Cars I” regulation.

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This regulation, based on Section 177 of the federal Clean Air Act, paved the way for California’s expansive “Advanced Clean Cars II” mandate. Slated to take effect on January 1, 2025, this new regulation would have required 100% of new cars sold in Model Year 2035 to be electric vehicles.

However, the tides have now turned. Attorney General Jason Miyares’ official opinion has confirmed that Virginia is not legally bound to follow the California mandate, as the law, as written, does not require the Commonwealth to do so. This paves the way for Virginia to chart its own course, independent of the policies of a state nearly 3,000 miles away.

The implications of the California mandate were far-reaching and potentially detrimental to Virginia’s automotive industry and consumers. Under the “Advanced Clean Cars II” regulation, beginning in Model Year 2026, 35% of new car sales would have been required to be electric vehicles, rising to 100% by 2035. Failure to comply could have resulted in auto manufacturers facing fines of up to $20,000 per vehicle sold.

Given that EVs only amounted to 9% of vehicles sold in Virginia in 2023, the application of these mandates could have led to hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties. This burden would have ultimately fallen on Virginia’s auto consumers and dealers, leaving them with less money to invest in their businesses, pay staff, and offer competitive wages.

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Governor Youngkin’s announcement marks a significant victory for the people of Virginia. “The idea that government should tell people what kind of car they can or can’t purchase is fundamentally wrong,” he stated. “Virginians deserve the freedom to choose which vehicles best fit the needs of their families and businesses.”

This sentiment is echoed by Senator Ryan McDougle, who co-patroned legislation to repeal the California mandate during this year’s legislative session. “Virginia’s laws should not be determined by California politicians,” he asserted. “Instead, our laws should be decided by Virginians who are elected to serve Virginia and address issues that face our Commonwealth, not a state nearly 3,000 miles away.”

With the end of the California mandate, Virginia will now follow federal emissions standards, effective January 1, 2025. This decision aligns with the Commonwealth’s commitment to empowering its citizens and ensuring that the automotive choices available to them are not dictated by distant, unelected officials.

The move away from the California mandate also opens the door for Virginia to explore innovative solutions that cater to the unique needs and preferences of its residents. By embracing a more localized approach, the state can tailor its policies to support the growth and development of its automotive industry, while also addressing the specific environmental and economic challenges faced by Virginians.

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As Virginia moves forward, the state’s leaders recognize the importance of embracing technological advancements in the automotive industry. While the decision to abandon the California mandate does not diminish the Commonwealth’s commitment to sustainability, it allows for a more balanced and nuanced approach to the adoption of electric vehicles.

By fostering an environment that encourages innovation and consumer choice, Virginia can pave the way for the seamless integration of EVs and other alternative fuel technologies into the transportation landscape. This approach not only empowers Virginians to make informed decisions about their vehicle purchases but also positions the state as a leader in the evolving automotive landscape.

The success of Virginia’s decision to exit the California EV mandate will hinge on the state’s ability to engage with a diverse range of stakeholders, including automakers, dealerships, environmental organizations, and consumer advocates. By fostering open dialogues and collaborative partnerships, Virginia can develop a comprehensive strategy that balances the needs of all parties involved.

This collaborative approach will be crucial in addressing concerns, identifying opportunities, and crafting policies that are both effective and responsive to the unique circumstances of the Commonwealth. By working together, Virginia can ensure that its automotive future is shaped by the voices and priorities of its citizens, rather than the dictates of a distant state.

While the decision to exit the California EV mandate may raise concerns about the Commonwealth’s commitment to environmental sustainability, Virginia’s leaders have emphasized their dedication to addressing climate change and promoting clean energy solutions.

Youngkin has made it clear that this move does not diminish the state’s focus on sustainability. “This decision is not about abandoning our commitment to the environment,” he stated. “It’s about empowering Virginians to make choices that align with their needs and values, while also exploring innovative ways to reduce our environmental impact.”

By adopting a more flexible and localized approach, Virginia can explore a range of strategies to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles and other clean transportation options. This could include incentives, infrastructure investments, and collaborative partnerships with the private sector and environmental stakeholders.

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