Sunday, April 14, 2024

Virginia adopts rule to sell only ‘clean’ cars starting in 2035

A 2020 Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action report finds transportation sources are responsible for 190 air pollution-related premature deaths annually in the state. (Adobe Stock)

RICHMOND — Virginia has adopted a new rule advancing clean car use.

The Advanced Clean Cars II Rule requires carmakers to only sell zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Some lawmakers are not so eager to have this come to fruition. Last year, Republicans in the House passed a bill to repeal a law holding Virginia to California’s vehicle emissions standards. It was later defeated in the Senate.

Cheri Conca, transportation and smart growth program manager for the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, said misinformation has made it challenging to get this rule adopted.

“First of all, people think, ‘Oh, this is some other state’s rules or they think we can make up our own rules for Virginia.’ The truth is every state has an option to either pick the EPA standards or you pick the Advanced Clean Car standards,” Conca explained. “You have to pick one or the other.”

A Southern Environmental Law Center report found lower vehicle emissions could save the state billions in health care-related costs. So far, 13 other states and Washington D.C., have adopted the Advanced Clean Car II Rule.

Like so many states, transportation is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in Virginia, with 53% of carbon dioxide pollution stemming from passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks. The rule takes effect March 13.

Now the question becomes whether Virginia has the infrastructure to accommodate electric vehicles. Dominion Energy has been developing the state’s electric car grid for some time, but Conca noted people wonder whether the energy infrastructure can handle it.

“When we think about the grid, people worry about the grid,” Conca observed. “The amount of time you’re actually charging your car is minimal. So, even if we have every new car sale, you know the amount of new cars compared to car sales overall, it’s not going to topple the grid.”

The electricity needed to power an EV in Virginia emits less than 17% of the carbon dioxide emitted from a traditional gasoline car. A Virginia Conservation Network report finds the state won’t be able to meet its climate goals without a 43% greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the transportation sector by 2030.

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