The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency has panned California’s new goal to outlaw all sales of gas-powered cars by 2035, insisting the plan is neither legal nor practical given the state’s current power grid problems.
In a letter penned to California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said that a recent executive order seeking to replace all gas-guzzling vehicles with electric cars would run into legal issues and would be unworkable, arguing that California “is already struggling to maintain reliable electricity for today’s demands.”
“Your recent executive order (EO) establishing a goal that 100 percent of new vehicle sales be zero emission by 2035 raises serious questions regarding its legality and practicality,” Wheeler wrote, adding that while the EO “seems to be mostly aspirational,” any attempt to implement it would need approval from the EPA.
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.
In a letter, the U.S. EPA administrator tells Newsom that his executive order mandating only new electric car sales in California by 2035 may be illegal and questions the feasibility of the increase demand in electricity “when you can’t even keep the lights on today.” pic.twitter.com/f3piV4UtZe
— Alexei Koseff (@akoseff) September 28, 2020
Signed last week, Newsom’s executive order comes as the state’s latest effort to phase out vehicles heavier on carbon emissions, to which California has already committed some $2.46 billion, encouraging various government agencies to make the switch from internal combustion engines to electric cars. The state has embarked on other ambitious environmental goals, working to cut emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and by 80 percent by 2050. Newsom has also urged the state legislature to pass a ban on hydraulic fracturing to obtain oil in California, also known as “fracking.”
Wheeler, however, said some of those plans may be too optimistic, suggesting that if the state implemented a full switch to electric cars, it would have “even worse power shortages than the ones that have already caused a series of otherwise preventable environmental and public health consequences,” citing an incident in August in which a power outage at a wastewater treatment plant resulted in 50,000 gallons of raw sewage pouring into the Oakland Estuary.
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