SACRAMENTO (CBSLA/AP) – Amid a slew of wildfires which have burned millions of acres up and down the West Coast, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an ambitious executive order Wednesday requiring that all new passenger vehicles sold in the state be zero-emission by 2035.
The governor claims the order, which would halt the sale of new gas-powered vehicles, would decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 35%.
"Pull away from the gas pumps," Newsom said in a news conference. "Let us no longer be victims of geopolitical dictators that manipulate global supply chains and global markets."
At least 15 other countries have already made similar commitments, including Germany, France and Norway.
Furthermore, Newsom's order also calls for all medium and heavy-duty vehicles which operate in California to be zero-emission by 2045.
Dough Eroh, the President of Longo Toyota acknowledged that it's a lofty goal and says a few key things must happen in order for the state to reach that goal.
"Not just building the cars, but getting the demand in line and building the infrastructure are really critical in getting to that goal," he said. "Whether it's the hydrogen fuel cell stations to power these fuel cell vehicles or it's the electric charging stations to power the electric vehicles, we're going to need that to grow also."
Newsom also directed state agencies to speed up the development of charging stations across the state.
Zero-emission vehicles will be "cheaper and better" alternatives to gas-powered vehicles by 2035, Newsom argues.
"The upfront cost of electric vehicles are projected to reach parity with conventional vehicles in just a matter of years, and the cost of owning the car – both in maintenance and how much it costs to power the car mile for mile – is far less than a fossil fuel burning vehicle," the governor's office wrote in a news release.
The California Air Resources Board will be responsible for developing and approving the regulations.
Meanwhile, Newsom also called on the Legislature to eliminate new fracking licenses by 2024.
Fracking is a technique that allows energy companies to extract huge volumes of oil and gas from shale rock deep underground. It involves injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals into rock. Fracking opponents say the chemicals involved threaten water supplies and public health.
Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, called Newsom's order "a big step" but said it "provided rhetoric rather than real action on the other critical half of the climate problem — California's dirty oil production."
"Newsom can't claim climate leadership while handing out permits to oil companies to drill and frack," she said. "He has the power to protect Californians from oil industry pollution, and he needs to use it, not pass the buck."
Details of how the mandate will be implemented are still unclear, but it only applies to the state of California, meaning people could still travel to a neighboring state to purchase a gas-powered vehicle.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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