A man charges his car at an electric vehicle charging station in Burlingame. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters

(CALMATTERS) – Today, California air regulators are set to vote on a far-reaching proposal to ban the sale of all new gas-powered cars in the state by 2035. Newsom, who in 2020 directed the California Air Resources Board to develop regulations to achieve that goal, tweeted a New York Times article on Wednesday that described the proposal “as one of the world’s most important climate change policies.”

But, as CalMatters’ Nadia Lopez has reported, the mandate — which would need to be greenlighted by the federal government in order to take effect — has sparked serious questions and concerns among air board members, environmental justice advocates and industry representatives alike, especially when it comes to the feasibility of producing, buying and charging vast quantities of electric cars. In a Wednesday press conference, the air board previewed proposed changes to address some of those concerns, including stronger battery durability requirements and enhanced incentives for manufacturers to offer cheaper electric vehicles so more low-income Californians can afford them. But significant uncertainty and pushback remains:

  • John Bozzella, president of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, told Nadia in a statement: “Whether or not these requirements are realistic or achievable is directly linked to external factors like inflation, charging and fuel infrastructure, supply chains, labor, critical mineral availability and pricing, and the ongoing semiconductor shortage. These are complex, intertwined and global issues well beyond the control of either (the air resources board) or the auto industry.”
  • The Environmental Working Group, which is pushing California to expand rooftop solar programs, said in a statement“One of the most pressing challenges the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom and future leaders will face is making sure there is enough power to charge all the new electric automobiles that will fill driveways, garages and parking lots throughout the most populous state in the country.”
  • Scott Hochberg, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said in a statement: “This rule needed to match the urgency of the climate crisis and instead leaves Californians making sputtering progress in the slow lane. California needs to … shift to (electric vehicles) much sooner or watch our climate stability slip away.”