Gov. Gavin Newsom swept headlines Wednesday after issuing an executive order calling for all passenger cars manufactured in California to be zero emission by 2035. Yet the order also accelerates an already ambitious clean truck regulation that was passed in April.
All medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses must be zero emission by 2045, according to the new directive. The Air Resources Board (CARB) had previously aimed at transitioning about 75% of all trucks by that time.
Drayage trucks, which are used to move shipping containers around ports, now have a 2035 deadline to go all electric. Western Growers CEO Dave Puglia recently argued that adding costly regulations at ports raises food prices and lowers the competitiveness of California ag.
According to the governor’s office, zero-emission vehicles “will almost certainly be cheaper” by 2035. CARB Chair Mary Nichols acknowledged at a press conference that the governor’s authority in issuing the executive order will certainly be challenged in court.
“We’re just getting started,” said Newsom, "We are working on a series of additional executive orders."
Newsom gained praise from Democrats like California Senator Dianne Feinstein, but scorn from state GOP lawmakers and moderate Democrats.
“They say they care about our communities, and then they come up with this in the middle of a pandemic?” tweeted Assemblymember Heath Flora of Ripon. “Every utopian green energy idea that comes out of the Bay ends up hurting the Central Valley the most.”
Newsom had argued the order would clean up air pollution in the valley.
Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove of Bakersfield said Newsom should focus on wildfires and not headlines. “Catastrophic wildfires can emit as much particulate matter in a single week as all of the cars on the road in California for a year,” she said in a statement.
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When Newsom announced two weeks ago that he would be aggressively advancing the state’s climate policies, Asm. Jim Cooper of Elk Grove, a moderate Democrat, took issue. He argued California’s “lofty” green energy goals are hurting working-class families and widening the income gap.
“These policies benefit mostly the wealthy and well-off and leave communities of color to foot the bill,” he said. “It is wrong and it needs to change.”
Cooper tweeted Wednesday that the Air Resources Board must step up efforts to increase rebates for low-income residents to buy electric vehicles. He noted that Newsom held his press conference in front of several EVs priced at more than $50,000 (pictured above).
Environmental and sustainable ag groups praised the effort but urged the governor to go further and enact policies to bolster natural and working lands in mitigating climate change.