Youngkin, Miyares State California EV Mandate Never Adopted for Virginia

States which are using California’s air emissions regulations on the sale of internal combustion cars. This is from California’s website. Click for larger view.

By Steve Haner

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) and Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) announced today that Virginia will no longer comply with the California air regulations that will restrict and eventually eliminate the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles. The announcement is sure to set off a political and legal firestorm as fierce as last year’s exit from a regional carbon tax compact.

“Once again, Virginia is declaring independence – this time from a misguided electric vehicle mandate imposed by unelected leaders nearly 3,000 miles away from the Commonwealth,” the release quotes Youngkin. “The idea that government should tell people what kind of car they can or can’t purchase is fundamentally wrong. Virginians deserve the freedom to choose which vehicles best fit the needs of their families and businesses. The law is clear, and I am proud to announce Virginians will no longer be forced to live under this out-of-touch policy.”

As with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the decision to join in California’s vehicle regulatory scheme was implemented under former Governor Ralph Northam (D). The 2021 legislature, on mainly party line votes with Democrats in the majority, authorized Northam and the Air Pollution Control Board to adopt the necessary regulations, which were agreed to at the end of that year.

The California regulatory scheme Virginia aligned itself with dates back to 2012 and was called Advanced Clean Cars I. During the first year of Youngkin’s and Miyares’ term, however, California deeply amended the regulatory scheme and adopted Advanced Clean Cars II. It was the ACC II rules that set the requirement that internal combustion vehicles would disappear from new car lots by 2035.

Unlike many other states, Virginia has not amended its current regulation to incorporate the new version, and the old ACC I rules expire at the of 2024. Leaving the California regime returns Virginia to regulation under the federal Environmental Projection Act, which is also proposing to limit the sale of gas vehicles, but so far is not seeking to eliminate them.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, California is the only state allowed to set air emissions standards more stringent than federal rules, but all other states are allowed to choose whether to follow California or comply with the EPA. More than a dozen states are following California. Some have also adopted its rules for heavier vehicles, but Virginia never did.

In a formal advisory opinion, Miyares states nothing in state law requires the Air Board to update the regulations it adopted in 2021 to remain aligned with California. As with the statute on RGGI, the operative verb in the key sentence is “may” and Miyares writes: “The use of the word ‘may’– as opposed to ‘shall’ – in a law evinces discretionary intent.”

Perhaps the bill’s authors in 2020 and 2021 never contemplated that their party would lose the governor’s mansion, so they were comfortable leaving the discretion with the executive branch. The statute on adopting the California air rules does include more instances of the word “shall” and will lend itself to a sharper argument over mandate versus discretion.

As with the dispute over RGGI, the bottom line is this issue will be back in front of the voters when a new governor and new House of Delegates are chosen in 2025. The parallel, less restrictive EPA regulation will also likely go away with Republican success in federal elections in 2024. A second Biden administration would push them through. As the saying goes, elections have consequences.

This decision will have major consequences for the nation’s automobile manufacturers and their Virginia dealers. The California regulatory scheme is another version of cap and trade, where manufacturers earn credits for electric vehicles which they sell in the various states aligned with California. How many gas-powered vehicles they can sell is determined by how many of those credits they earn.

If a lawsuit comes to challenge this decision, the automobile manufacturers may join with the environmental community to bring it. Tesla makes only electric vehicles and is thus able to sell its unused ACC II credits for major revenue. The pending lawsuit over RGGI was brought by a group making money off that scheme, and the manufacturers also have a big pecuniary interest.

The original 2021 bill to join ACC I was supported by the Virginia Auto Dealers Association, which cited concerns that its members would not be able to get as many EV’s to sell if the state is not part of the California compact. That may prove to be the case, although in the three years since then the projections of public demand for EVs have not been met. They were less than 10% of Virginia sales last year.

Early in the Youngkin Administration, the question of how Virginia would react to the adoption of ACC II was raised. Virginia Mercury reported at the time that the Attorney General’s office was of the opinion the update would happen, apparently automatically. That is more grist for some courtroom mill.

In most other states which are part of the California compact, the new version of the regulations have already been adopted or are in the process of being adopted. The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators has tracked that, and noted that “states will need to initiate rulemaking to adopt the new, more stringent regulations.” As for Virginia, it included a link to that Virginia Mercury article indicating Virginia didn’t need to.

As of earlier this week, the state Department of Environmental Quality website indicated that compliance was plugging along, with no reference to any complications caused by California’s new version.

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27 responses to “Youngkin, Miyares State California EV Mandate Never Adopted for Virginia”

  1. Ronnie Chappell Avatar
    Ronnie Chappell

    With this decision, Youngkin is throwing statehouse democrats a lifeline — sparing them the auto dealer, consumer and voter outrage sure to accompany an ill-conceived mandate that requires people to buy EV' that don't and won't exist 18 months from now that will depend on recharging stations that won't exist, and which will send car buyers to neighboring states to buy the new gas-powered pickups and SUV's they want. This is a transition VA isn't nearly ready for and Youngkin should force Dems to eat it or fix it on their own.

  2. Great news, until the Leftinistas try to change the definition of 'may'….. it'll come now that it's needed to keep this craziness going.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: " “The idea that government should tell people what kind of car they can or can’t purchase is fundamentally wrong. Virginians deserve the freedom to choose which vehicles best fit the needs of their families and businesses. "

    Right, I choose to not have any emission controls on the vehicle that meets my needs including not having to use unleaded gas.

    All these dang rules are denial of my basic freedoms. I should be able t drive whatever I wish, not what the govt mandates….

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Strip off them side mirrors and keep your bald tires, too. 🙂 But the first guy is correct, a whole bunch of traditional D voters really don't like this either. Most remain blissfully unaware of what is/was/may still be coming down the pike.

      Now the '25 Dem candidates will have to take an affirmative stance in favor of this madness, just as they will stand firm on the RGGI tax. No more just stand pat on the status quo…

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        It’s okay. They can do that – full disclosure – as long as the GOP does full disclosure on Abortion and birth control.

    2. CJBova Avatar

      Foolish statement! Huge difference between required pollution controls and having to invest in an expensive EV whose battery is as costly as an entire vehicle used to be.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        foolish to learn at current accepted pollution mandates and say govt was wrong to do it and we should not be subject to it, etc, etc.. and how many other govt-mandated things in the auto. Remember the anti-unlead ed gas folks? EVs are trending towards the same as combustion .. read the news..

        we'd not have cleaner air nor water if it were not for GOvt "mandates" (that are opposed by the same folks). Truth!

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        here's a timeline Carol:
        Some science thinks the ice ages occurred when there were some massive volcanoes erupting… causing the "winter".

        But if you look at the entire timeline, it's clear what is happening… unless of course you think it's been fabricated by most of the world's scientists in some kind of grand global conspiracy.

        1. Stephen Haner Avatar
          Stephen Haner

          Some science thinks the ice ages occurred when there were some massive volcanoes erupting… causing the "winter".

          That has to be the funniest, silliest claim I have ever seen from a climate fascist….

        2. Stephen Haner Avatar
          Stephen Haner

          Some science thinks the ice ages occurred when there were some massive volcanoes erupting… causing the "winter".

          That has to be the funniest, silliest claim I have ever seen from a climate fascist….

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            join the club!

            science is whatever you want it to be, right?

          2. Stephen Haner Avatar
            Stephen Haner

            You can't find that printed in even the craziest of the climate chaos journals. No scientist ever published such results. Ever. So sure, make schist up.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            about what caused the ice age?

          4. I thought Fauci was the science

          5. LarrytheG Avatar

            He’s one. For sure. Do you realize he worked on AIDs and HIV and many other diseases in his career?

          6. LarrytheG Avatar

            some folks believe the NOAA weather forecasts. They believe the hurricane forecasts. And El Nino predictions. They believe the tide predictions and ocean currents. Ozone hole modelling and modelling for asteroids and comets, Plate Tektonics, when volcanoes might erupt, what the various layers in the Grand Canyon mean and some believe something else and other…

          7. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
            Dick Hall-Sizemore

            Larry is on the right track, but I am not sure what he means by "winter".

            There is considerable geologic evidence that so much of the Earth was covered in ice that it would have looked like a giant snowball from space. Geologists refer to this period as Snowball Earth. The theories go like this: at the time, the supercontinent Rodinia had formed in the southern hemispher where there were tropical conditions. All the rain resulted in rapid (rapid in geologic terms, anyway) weatherization of the rock. Weatherization of rock pulls CO2 from the atmosphere. As the level of CO2 decreased, it got colder. At some point, there was so much ice around that the carbon cycle slowed to a trickle. At the same time, there were volcanoes erupting. Volcanoes are driven by tectonic forces, not by energy from the Sun. These eruptions produced gases and water vapor (which includes CO2) As the volcanoes continued to erupt producing more CO2, with no weatherization of rocks going on to pull CO2 out of the air, temperatures began t increase until things were in balance again and Snowball Earth was over. It is laid out here. Most is pretty technical. On the right side of each page is a table of contents; click on Item 7 and that will give you the crux of it.

          8. CJBova Avatar

            Scientific dispute

            Scientific Dispute:
            “The argument against the hypothesis is evidence of fluctuation in ice cover and melting during “snowball Earth” deposits. Evidence for such melting comes from evidence of glacial dropstones,[32] geochemical evidence of climate cyclicity,[48] and interbedded glacial and shallow marine sediments.[49] A longer record from Oman, constrained to 13°N, covers the period from 712 to 545 million years ago—a time span containing the Sturtian and Marinoan glaciations—and shows both glacial and ice-free deposition.[74] The snowball Earth hypothesis does not explain the alternation of glacial and interglacial events, nor the oscillation of glacial sheet margins.[75] “

          9. LarrytheG Avatar

            The volcanoes were very real as was the dust and debris from them and we do know the earth cools when that much debris gets into the atmosphere .


            If one looks at a temperature timeline one can see the ice ages and increasing temperatures since then.

            I do not and others who believe the data and science and do not believe the data and science is being forged by a cabal of scientists around the world.

            We don't know with precision how things will play out but we do know there is virtually universal concern from scientists around the world and we ought be heed it – and in fact, the vast majority of people do just as they have heeded science with the ozone holes and other threats.

          10. LarrytheG Avatar

            here's another, different cause

            There are reasons why the ice ages occurred – but earth temps kept going up. THe ice ages were TEMPORARY.

            And yes, if had another huge volcano go off or a giant asteroid hit, it very well could cool the earth again but it would not stop the trend if we don't deal with the reasons for the trend.

        3. CJBova Avatar

          Not by scientists — by politicians and their followers.

  4. Matt Adams Avatar
    Matt Adams

    Our regulations and laws should never be tied to another state. If the GA is unwilling to put the effort into drafting this own, perhaps they shouldn't be enacted.

  5. Chip Gibson Avatar
    Chip Gibson

    Go Governor Youngkin!! The Man!

  6. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    I was under the misperception that the Va. Dems had hard-coded the EV mandate so that only a Repub majority in the VA house+senate+gov could reverse it. In any case, agree that Va. is not ready for a Ca. EV mandate.

    The big picture, this auto issue is part of the root cause of divisiveness in U.S. society. We probably need to fix this as Step-1 of any national reform project.

    History is that, many years ago, Congress gave California the right to control it's special smog issue (due to unique smog basin geography). That was only for auto NOx, Hydrocarbons, CO.

    Enter cat converters and sulfur removal from gasoline, and VOILA, no more auto smog issue.

    Then Ca. said: having solved the smog problem, we'd like to keep the autonomous powers Congress gave us for smog, and demand CO2 reduction to zero, tax carbon, phase out fossil fuels, and mandate EV's. And the blue states said: we support California setting extremist national p0licies and we will mandate whatever California mandates.

    This is basically refusal of Blue States to accept national policy, and that needs to be fixed (or else anarchy and divisiveness continues to prevail).

  7. William O'Keefe Avatar
    William O’Keefe

    It's too bad that Larry seems to hijack every piece to get a discussion off track and on to what he wants to discuss.
    The decision to reject California's EV mandate makes eminent economic and environmental sense.
    The Clear Air Act gave California a special carve out because it had a special smog problem. Since then it has morphed into a national option pushed by environmentalists first for clean air and now for climate change.
    The mandate is not needed for either. And, it is becoming increasingly clear that trying to force technology decades in the future is a folly, a mugs game.

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