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Is California’s Gasoline Car Ban Legal?

The chief of the Environmental Protection Agency has questioned “the legality and practicality” of an executive order issued earlier this week by California Governor Gavin Newsom that will ban sales of new gasoline cars in the state from 2035.

Andrew Wheeler also suggested that the order could need federal approval, according to a letter seen by the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.

Newsom signed the order last week and passed it on to the California Air Resources Board for implementation in the Golden State’s latest effort to reduce emissions.

“In the next 15 years we will eliminate in the state of California the sales of internal combustion engines,” the Governor said at a news conference before signing the executive order. “If you want to reduce asthma, if you want to mitigate the rise of sea level, if you want to mitigate the loss of ice sheets around the globe, then this is a policy for other states to follow.”

According to Wheeler, however, if the state wants to do that, it may have to apply for a waiver with the EPA. The regulator has already locked horns with California on the matter: last year, the EPA instituted rules preventing the state from mandating its own emission standards that would have boosted sales of electric cars at the expense of vehicles with internal combustion engines.

Wheeler’s letter focuses on concerns that others already raised after the news broke of Newsom’s executive order: additional strain on the state’s already strained grid.

“California’s record of rolling blackouts—unprecedented in size and scope—coupled with recent requests to neighboring states for power begs the question of how you expect to run an electric car fleet that will come with significant increases in electricity demand, when you can’t even keep the lights on today,” the head of the EPA wrote in the letter.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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