Governors Ask Biden to Phase Out Gas-Powered Vehicles

April 21, 2021

The governors of 12 states have asked President Joe Biden to "ensure that all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold are zero-emission no later than 2035, with significant milestones along the way to monitor progress."

In an April 21 letter to Biden, the governors wrote that "by establishing a clear regulatory path to ensuring that all vehicles sold in the United States are zero-emission, we can finally clear the air and create high-road jobs. Moving quickly towards a zero-emission transportation future will protect the health of all communities."

In addition, "the proposed investments in (Biden's) American Jobs Plan can be leveraged even further by a strong regulatory framework and will allow the market for American-made zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) to flourish.

"States across the country have already accelerated this transition," they wrote, first citing the California mandate that calls for the phase-out of new gas-powered vehicle sales in that state by 2035.

In addition, "Connecticut has committed to an ambitious electric vehicle (EV) adoption goal of putting between 125,000 to150,000 EVs on the road by 2025.

"Ground transportation emissions are the largest share of Hawaii's energy emissions. To meet its statutory target 'to sequester more greenhouse gases than emitted as soon as practicable, but no later than 2045,' policies supporting cleaner transportation are critical." (The letter states that Hawaii is replacing state and county fleets "using innovative procurement for sustainability-as-a-service to lease electric vehicles and charging stations.")

Governors also pointed out that Maine "has committed to putting at least 219,000 ZEVs on the road by 2030, while committing to purchase 100% light-duty ZEVs for the state fleet in the same time frame," and that Massachusetts "has made significant commitments to increase the number of ZEVs," including investments of more than $60 million in consumer rebates and $80 million in developing an electric vehicle charging station infrastructure.

"New Mexico is working on the adoption of clean car standards and pursuing development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure along major highways in the intermountain West as a signatory of the Regional Electric Vehicle Plan for the West Memorandum of Understanding," they wrote.

"New Jersey announced this year an investment of over $100 million in equitable transportation electrification projects to improve air quality and reduce the effects of climate change and is developing a regional action plan, with the goal that by 2050, all new medium and heavy duty trucks sold are ZEVs."

Meanwhile, the state of New York is investing more than $1 billion in zero emissions cars, trucks and buses and ZEV fueling infrastructure over the next five years, "including an $85 million competition to deploy innovative, clean transportation strategies in communities overburdened by vehicular emissions and is developing a groundbreaking plan to achieve net zero emissions across the state’s economy."

Governors wrote that North Carolina "is implementing strategic plans to achieve its statewide ZEV goals" and that Oregon "has a goal for at least 90% of new motor vehicles sold annually to be zero-emission by 2035.

"In 2015, Rhode Island set a goal that a minimum of 25% of new light-duty state fleet purchases and leases will be zero-emissions vehicles by 2025" and the state of Washington "will adopt the full suite of California light, medium and heavy-duty clean vehicle standards by the end of 2021.

"Washington has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in transportation electrification for passenger cars, trucks, buses and marine vessels.

"More than 24 states have worked together to defend the stringency of clean car standards over the past four years and 15 states, plus the District of Columbia, are already collaborating on an MOU (memorandum of understanding) to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

"With bold federal leadership, American workers will lead the way in designing, building and driving clean and affordable vehicles. Strong support of ZEVs is also fundamental to keeping America competitive in the global marketplace. As Governors, we respectfully request that your Administration build on this momentum by:

• "Setting standards to ensure that all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold are zero-emission no later than 2035, with significant milestones along the way to monitor progress; 

• "Setting standards for medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles and supporting complementary policies, such as purchase incentives and infrastructure investments, that set a path towards 100% zero-emission sales by no later than 2045, with significant milestones along the way to monitor progress;

 • "Expeditiously restoring strong, scientifically based greenhouse gas emission standards for all vehicle model years. This will recover all of the emission reductions and other important benefits that were lost during the past four years" under the Trump White House;

• "Reaffirming that states have authority to follow vehicle emissions standards set by California, if they choose to do so;

• "Providing states with substantial funding for investment in charging and fueling infrastructure, providing grants or other financial support for fleet turnover to ZEVs, providing underserved communities equitable access to ZEVs and charging and fueling infrastructure and supporting ZEV marketing; 

"• Enhancing the existing electric vehicle tax credits by raising or removing the limits per manufacturer and extending tax credits to sales of medium and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles; 

• "Ensuring that purchase incentives for ZEVs incorporate strategies targeting low-income buyers, as well as expand incentives to used ZEVs focusing rebates at the point of sale;

 • "Enacting new tax credits for the manufacturing of zero-emission trucks and buses, as well as ZEV charging and fueling stations; 

• "Working to repeal the statutory provision that appears to prohibit the installation of zero-emission recharging/refueling stations along interstate rights of way, including rest areas."

President Biden’s recently announced, $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan has earmarked $174 billion for investment in electric vehicles. This amount represents nearly 30% of the total number of dollars that the administration has set aside for transportation infrastructure improvements.

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.

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