Photo: Carin Dorghalli, AP
California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Wednesday to phase out sales of new gasoline-fueled vehicles by 2035 in a bid to combat climate change amid a record-breaking wildfire season marked by weather he called “unprecedented.”
Newsom also called on legislators to send him a bill next year banning hydraulic fracking by oil companies.
California would be the first state in the nation to ban sales of internal combustion engines, though the governor said 15 other countries including China, Germany, France and Norway have already “established benchmark goals.”
Newsom called the order a “bold and big step” that would promote innovation and create jobs.
“We want more choice. We want cleaner air,” he said. “We want to increase our manufacturing base and we want to increase our expertise. That’s what we think we are significantly advancing here.”
The governor clarified that the order would not ban people from owning gas-powered vehicles, but it would end the sales of all new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks in the state of nearly 40 million people.
“You can still keep your internal combustion car,” Newsom said. “You can still have a market for used cars. We’re providing an abundance of new opportunities.”
California and the roughly dozen states that follow its lead on auto emissions standards make up a significant part of the U.S. auto market, giving the day’s move huge potential impact for the U.S. automobile industry as well as for long-term efforts against pollution and climate change, which is driven by fossil-fuel emissions. It also is likely to meet opposition from President Donald Trump, who wants to roll back tougher Obama-era auto emissions standards and is battling California to force it to comply.
California already has rules mandating a certain percentage of new car sales must be electric or zero-emission vehicles. This rule, if implemented, would make California the first U.S. state with a plan to phase them out completely.
Newsom’s order directs the California Air Resources Board to develop and approve regulations to meet the 2035 deadline. He also ordered them to make a rule requiring all medium and heavy-duty trucks be 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2045 “where feasible.”
Newsom also directed state agencies to speed up development of charging stations across the state and called on the Legislature to eliminate new fracking licenses by 2024.
Fracking is a technique that allows energy companies to extract huge volumes of oil and gas from shale rock deep underground. It involves injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals into rock. Fracking opponents say the chemicals involved threaten water supplies and public health.
California has a goal of relying 100% on clean, renewable energy by 2045. Gasoline and diesel-powered cars and trucks are the biggest impediment to reaching that goal as they account for more than half of the state’s carbon pollution.
The order comes as massive wildfires have burned a record 5,600 square miles (14,500 square kilometers) in California this year. Experts say the size and intensity of the fires are aided by warmer temperatures and years of drought brought on by climate change.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Amy Graff is the News Editor for SFGATE. Email her: [email protected].