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Virginia’s Youngkin and Miyares Hit Back at California’s Electric Vehicle Mandate: ‘Declare Independence’

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Starting next year, Virginia will no longer follow California’s mandates for electric vehicles, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office announced Wednesday.

“Once again, Virginia declares independence — this time based on a misleading electric vehicle mandate imposed by unelected leaders nearly 3,000 miles away from the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said in a statement.

Although Youngkin has opposed green energy mandates put in place by the previous administration – most notably the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – the announcement comes as a surprise as this decision was believed to be in the hands of the General Assembly.

“Once again, Virginia declares independence — this time based on a misleading electric vehicle mandate imposed by unelected leaders nearly 3,000 miles away from the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said in a statement. AP

Youngkin encouraged state lawmakers at the start of this year’s legislative session to repeal the 2021 law tying Virginia’s auto emissions policy to California’s, but the bill never left committee due to the Democratic majority in the Assembly.

But the Commonwealth’s Attorney General Jason Miyares has issued what is sure to be a highly controversial official opinion affirming that Virginia is not required to comply with the sweeping new mandates adopted by the unelected California Air Resources Board (CARB) and which will come into force in January. 1, 2025.”

The governor held a press conference Wednesday afternoon in which he proudly announced Virginia’s emancipation from California’s policies.

“I am privileged to once and for all announce California’s electric vehicle mandate in Virginia. The idea that governments should tell Virginians what kind of car to drive is simply wrong,” Youngkin said.

Starting next year, Virginia will no longer follow California’s mandates for electric vehicles, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office announced Wednesday. AP

Federal law limits state autonomy over vehicle emissions: States must adhere to federal vehicle emissions standards, or they can choose to adopt California’s stricter standards.

In 2021, under a Democratic governor and a Democratic majority in the General Assembly, Virginia passed several bills that dramatically changed the state’s energy and environmental landscape. One was the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which committed to transitioning Virginia’s electric grid entirely to green energy by 2050, and another linked Virginia’s electric vehicle policy to California’s.

California requires that 100% of new car sales be zero-emission vehicles by 2035 and can fine automakers that don’t comply.

Republicans have opposed the mandates since they came to Virginia but have been unable to overturn them through the legislative process. But Miyares seems confident he has found a legal loophole.

In 2012, California adopted the Advanced Clean Car Program I, which regulates vehicle emissions standards from 2015 to 2025. In 2022, California adopted the Advanced Clean Cars II.

“The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board never approved or adopted this ACCII (Advanced Clean Car Program II) regulation, and because there was an explicit sunset provision imposed on ACCI, it expires on December 31 of this year,” Miyares said.

Miyares also pointed to “permissive” language in Virginia law, pointing to the first program, ACCI, which allowed the commonwealth to abandon California’s clean car policy in 2025.

Attorney General Jason Miyares said: “affirm that Virginia is not required to comply with extensive new mandates adopted by the unelected California Air Resources Board (CARB) that will go into effect on January 1, 2025.” The Washington Post via Getty Images

“As Attorney General of Virginia, I can come to no other conclusion that the provisions binding us to California’s ACCII are no longer actionable and yes, Virginians once again have consumer freedom,” Miyares said.

Republicans are expressing support for the move, grateful that the Commonwealth’s environmental policies will no longer be tied to California’s.

“Virginians, not California’s unelected bureaucrats, should be able to choose the cars that fit their family’s needs,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Michael McDougle wrote on X.

“Excellent!! This had to be one of the most ridiculous policy decisions forced upon Virginians when Democrats took full control of the government in 2020/2021,” Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, wrote on X.

Virginia Democrats have not yet issued an official response to the news.





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