California’s Influence Wanes as Virginia Rejects Electric Vehicle Mandate


Years ago, California stood out as a governance leader. Its market size and cutting-edge technology status often made California standards the benchmark for national policies.

But that’s no longer the case.

After a decade under solid Democratic Party control, California faces numerous challenges. From homelessness and crime to the nation’s highest energy prices, the state is now struggling in almost every policy area.

Nevertheless, some Democrats in other states continue to follow California’s lead. For instance, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a 2021 law, passed by a Democratic-controlled legislature, aligning Virginia’s automobile regulations with California’s.

California regulators had mandated that from 2018, at least 4.5% of cars sold in the state had to be electric, with an annual increase of 2.5%, reaching 22% by 2025. Manufacturers failing to meet this threshold would face fines or need to buy credits from those who surpassed it.

In Virginia, only 9% of cars sold are electric, meaning most car companies fail to meet the regulation.

California then updated its regulations to take effect this coming January, further increasing the minimum percentage of electric cars. Under the new standards, by 2035, all cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in California must be electric. This regulation essentially bans the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles.

Virginia’s Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares spotted a legal opening. According to Miyares’ legal analysis, Virginia does not have to follow California’s new mandates, and with the old ones soon becoming inoperative, Virginia will not be bound by them either. Thus, come January, Virginia can free itself from Californian control.

“Once again, Virginia is declaring independence,” Youngkin announced on Wednesday, June 5. “This time from a misguided electric vehicle mandate imposed by unelected leaders nearly 3,000 miles away. … The idea that the government should tell people what kind of car they can or can’t purchase is fundamentally wrong. Virginians deserve the freedom to choose which vehicles best fit the needs of their families and businesses.”

Despite the strong ambitions of President Joe Biden and California Democrats, the public remains hesitant about electric vehicles. They are seen as unreliable, especially in cold weather, have limited range when carrying additional weight, and finding charging stations on long trips is challenging. Additionally, they are expensive to buy and repair.

Congress never intended for the Environmental Protection Agency to ban gas vehicles as Biden and the Democrats are attempting. While California is free to implement such a ban, millions of families are already leaving the state annually. The once-golden state should not impose its policies on other states, and Youngkin is justified in leading Virginians away from California’s grasp.

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