(WatchDogReport.org) – Virginia’s 2024 legislative session witnessed the demise of a significant bill aiming to repeal the 2021 law linking the state’s vehicle emissions standards to California’s. The legislation faced rejection in a Senate committee this week, as Senate Republicans argued against the viability of California’s electric vehicle laws for Virginia, citing higher costs, mechanical issues, and limited demand for EVs. It also highlights the unfairness of permitting California’s policies to govern Virginia.
Senator Richard Stuart, R-King George, expressed frustration over relinquishing authority to California’s air board, emphasizing the need for Virginia to determine its own destiny. In response, Senator Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield, defended the Clean Cars Act, asserting that adopting California’s stricter standard was essential to meeting zero-emission goals.
Republicans stressed their commitment to environmental conservation but contended that California’s goals were unattainable for Virginia. The zero-emission vehicle program, mirroring California’s 2022 initiative, requires 100% of new car sales in the state to be ZEVs by 2035. Automakers failing to meet ZEV standards face a $5,000 fine for each credit shortfall, with potential revenue increasing in the 2026 model year.
Despite concerns about energy infrastructure, electric vehicle performance, and battery disposal, Democrats on the committee remained steadfast in supporting the Clean Cars Act. Committee Chair Senator Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax, acknowledged the importance of providing mechanisms for the aspirational bill’s success, hinting at discussions with corporate and environmental groups.
“An aspirational bill is an aspirational bill,” Marsden remarked, adding that without the mechanics required for the bill to succeed, Virginia has a “problem.”
The Democratic-majority Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee voted 8-6 to pass the bill indefinitely, effectively halting its progress this session. This marks the third consecutive year that Virginia Senate Democrats have thwarted Republican attempts to repeal the electric vehicle mandate, reinforcing the state’s commitment to adopting California’s stringent emissions rules.
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