Republicans urge Biden to block California’s gas-powered car ban

More than 150 Republican lawmakers in the US House of Representatives sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Thursday asking him to block a California measure to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and smaller trucks by 2035.

The letter was written by Ohio Rep. Bob Latta and was signed by 157 of his colleagues in the House Republican Conference, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. In the letter, Republicans argued that California’s power grid will not be able to handle a switch to electric vehicles and that the rest of the country will be affected.

“This effort will extend far beyond the borders of California and make it more difficult for Americans to go to work, drop off their children at school, and travel to visit loved ones,” Latta said in a news release. about the letter. “We can’t forget that California recently warned residents to substantially reduce their energy use, and now they backfire by forcing people to become more reliant on the power grid through the mandatory transition from traditional to electric-only vehicles.” .

Here, Latta is talking about a request the California Independent System Operator made early last month when it asked residents to conserve energy amid an unprecedented heat wave. The agency asked residents to set their thermostats to 78 or higher, avoid using large appliances and turn off unnecessary lights between certain hours to avoid overloading the state’s power grid and causing widespread blackouts.

The crux of Latta’s argument is that installing the charging stations needed to power the millions of electric cars that will eventually be on California’s roads will have adverse effects on other states. California already borrows a third of its energy from neighboring states (65% comes from the Southwest, while 35% comes from the Northwest), according to a Forbes report.

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“These concerns about network reliability are so obvious that they cannot be ignored,” Latta wrote in the letter. “Clearly, the goal of [the state’s] The new regulation is to put California on a path toward full on-road fleet electrification, which would mean the state would have to be able to generate enough electricity to continuously charge 30 million registered vehicles.”

California’s ban only applies to the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and trucks. The new rules set deadlines for implementing an outright ban as a way to help automakers comply; by 2026 and 2030, respectively, electric cars will need to account for 35% and 68% of all new cars sold. Hybrid vehicles, which run on gasoline and electricity, are allowed under the new rules as long as they are capable of driving at least 50 miles on battery power alone and are less than 20% of new vehicles sold in California. The US Environmental Protection Agency must approve the ban for it to go into effect, which is why Republicans are pushing Biden to block it.

State regulators say the ban will greatly reduce the state’s environmental footprint and benefit the health of residents. The California Air Resources Board expects the state to save $13 billion in pollution-related health care costs, including 1,290 fewer cardiopulmonary deaths, 460 fewer hospital admissions for cardiovascular or respiratory illness, and 650 fewer ward visits. asthma emergencies. To mitigate the strain on the US power grid that Latta and others are concerned about, state leaders are already investigating what infrastructure would be needed to sustainably power millions of electric vehicles.

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New York has already adopted a similar ban, with the added caveat that the sale of gasoline-powered heavy trucks will be banned by 2045. After California’s ban announcement, other Democratic-leaning states, including Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington, They indicated that they would do the same.

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