California’s decision this week to pull the plug on the sale of new gas-powered cars and light trucks by 2035 is raising the ire of the Trump administration.
“I don’t think the American public is ready for it at this point,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at the Concordia Summit this week.
“I think it’s more aspirational and probably more political for them to turn their attention away from the forest fires happening in California,” he added.
More than half of California’s emissions come from the transportation sector, and Gov. Gavin Newsom predicts his executive order will reduce greenhouse gases in the state by 35%.
While environmental groups were quick to get behind the mandate, the auto industry had a much more measured response.
John Bozella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, an industry group that represents big automakers including Ford, said while the industry is committed to producing zero-emission vehicles, “neither mandates nor bans build successful markets.”
Wheeler said climate change needs to be a global effort and that “one state can’t make that big of a difference just by themselves. I just don’t think even the state of California can get to 100% by 2025.”
California represents 11% of all vehicle sales in the U.S., and industry analysts say the first-in-the-nation policy could be seen as a blueprint for other states to adopt.
California is already home to nearly three dozen electric vehicle manufacturers – including Tesla (TSLA) and accounts for about half of all electric vehicle sales in the U.S.
Lauren Fix, auto analyst at The Car Coach, says the state can have tremendous sway over the overall auto industry, but she tells Yahoo Finance that Governor Newsom’s mandate could lead to affordability issues for both consumers and companies.
“If you’re expecting more electric vehicles to be sold, what you’re really doing, is you’re putting a burden on the used car market,” Fix said. “Can you imagine what it’s going to do to the cost of a used car in California? How can the average consumer who makes under $50,000 a year be able to afford an electric car? They can’t.”
Fix warns that higher electricity prices will be another byproduct of so many vehicles going electric at once.
The EPA has already butted heads with California. The agency has been rolling back existing emissions standards and revoked California’s decades-old authority to set its own rules.
“The American public should have the opportunity to pick what kind of automobiles they buy and what type of automobiles they drive,” said Wheeler. “I don’t think any level of government, whether it be the state or federal government, should dictate a particular technology to the public.”
Alexis Christoforous is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.” Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.
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