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Glenn Youngkin rips California law banning new gas-powered cars, vows Virginia won’t follow suit

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin laid into California leaders for approving the phaseout of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035, a stringent emissions rule meant to combat climate change that Virginia by law must now follow.

Thanks to a 2021 law that Virginia’s prior Democratic leaders crafted, the state will follow California’s ambitious transition to zero-emission vehicles.  

Mr. Youngkin vowed to change that.

“In an effort to turn Virginia into California, liberal politicians who previously ran our government sold Virginia out by subjecting Virginia drivers to California vehicle laws. Now, under that pact, Virginians will be forced to adopt the California law that prohibits the sale of gas and diesel-fueled vehicles,” he said in a statement. “I am already at work to prevent this ridiculous edict from being forced on Virginians. California’s out-of-touch laws have no place in our Commonwealth.”

He might be headed into a fight. Republicans control Virginia’s House of Delegates but Democrats run the state Senate.

House Speaker Todd Gilbert said his chamber will advance legislation during next year’s session to “put Virginians back in charge of Virginia’s auto emission standards and its vehicle marketplace.”

“Virginia is not and should not be California,” Mr. Gilbert said.

Democrats and environmentalists hailed California’s regulations, which are the strictest in the country.

The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously Thursday to approve the new emissions rule, which came about from a 2020 executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. It mandates that automakers must reach zero-emission sales targets starting with 35% with the 2026 model year and increasing until 2035 when new vehicles sold will have to be either electric, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen-powered.

Opponents have fears about both affordability and feasibility. 

Electric vehicles are, on average, roughly $10,000 more than gas-powered vehicles and are subject to global supply chain issues, critical minerals, vehicle-charging infrastructure and the state’s uncertain electric grid.

• Valerie Richardson contributed to this report. 

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