Washington State has become the twelfth state to adopt tighter emissions standards in the face of the new laxer laws brought in by the Trump administration, following the example of California. Four more states are about to do the same.
++ Please find an update of this article below. ++
As it stands, the new legislation in Washington State will mean that the entire West Coast will have Zero Emissions Vehicle mandates from California to British Columbia.
The new bill authorises the Washington State Department of Ecology to adopt California ZEV program regulations and expands the types of vehicles on which a manufacturer is required to affix a label that discloses comparative greenhouse gas for that new vehicle to include medium-duty vehicles.
At the end of last month, the Trump administration dramatically reduced fuel-efficiency standards so that they are now only required to increase by 1.5% each year through the model year 2026 instead of the 5% annual increases introduced in 2012 by the Obama government.
Minnesota, as the 13th state, apparently wants to join the alliance of US states this year. The Clean Cars Minnesota program was already proposed at the end of 2019 but has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency still plans to complete the approval process before the end of 2020, writes the Echo Press among others. And as Electrek indicates, New Mexico, Colorado and Ohio could follow soon.
“While President Trump threatens to rob New Mexico and indeed all states of a valuable tool for combating air pollution and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, New Mexico will stand up and deliver on our commitment to environmental leadership,” said New Mexico’s Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. It seems New Mexico also plans to adopt California’s standards by the end of 2020.
The Federal US Government not only has States taking up their legislation to improve air quality and mitigate climate change, but carmakers are also joining an alliance to adhere to tighter emissions standards voluntarily. Also this month, Volvo joined VW, BMW, Ford and Honda to sign a framework agreement with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to reduce emissions.
In total, the number of states with their emission standards is likely to soon grow to 23: which is the same number of states it took to block Trump from depriving California of the right to set its standards. As yet, not all of these supporters managed to adopt the Californian rules. If they do, Electrek also aptly observed that “California ZEV states could soon govern emissions rules for a bigger chunk of the American auto market than the EPA,” (referring to the federally administrated Environmental Protection Agency).
Some states merely have their adoption dates on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic such as Ohio. There, Rep. Casey Weinstein said: “The future of the automotive industry is electric, and we have to be ready for its long-term growth.”
Update 23 June 2020: Nevada is joining the ranks of states defying Trump as the governor of Nevada announces that he wants to take over the Californian ZEV mandate. It is the now 13th state opposing the reduced fuel consumption limits for vehicles by the US government even as the Trump administration has moved to deny states the right to implement such requirements.
California’s vehicle emissions rules are more stringent than regulations advocated by the Environmental Protection Agency under President Donald Trump. They are currently followed by states accounting for more than 40% of US vehicle sales.
Reuters quotes John Bozzella, who heads an auto trade group representing General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor Corp and other major automakers, noting that by 2025, the industry’s investment in electric cars will exceed $200 billion.
Bozzella added that carmakers “are committed to working with Governor Sisolak of Nevada and state regulators toward a smoother transition to ZEV adoption that includes expanded consumer awareness, infrastructure, incentives, fleet requirements, building codes, fuel requirements, and more,” according to the latest report.
Additional reporting by Nora Manthey.