US EPA reviewing California 2035 electric vehicle sales mandate plan

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. environmental regulatory agency will hold a hearing next week on whether to approve California’s plan to require all new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 to be electric or plug-in electric hybrids.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) in August 2022 approved the landmark plan to end the sale of gasoline-only vehicles in the state by 2035.

In May, CARB asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve a waiver under the Clean Air Act allowing the plan to proceed. EPA is holding a Jan. 10 public hearing and will take written comments through Feb. 27 on California’s request.

CARB said it appreciated EPA scheduling the hearing to consider its request.

California’s rules set yearly rising zero emission vehicle requirements starting in 2026, which have been adopted by at least 12 other states.

President Joe Biden’s administration has repeatedly refused to endorse setting a date to phase out the sale of gasoline-only vehicles.

Under a separate EPA proposal released in April to drastically cut vehicle emissions through 2032, automakers are forecast to produce 60% EVs by 2030 and 67% by 2032 to meet requirements. Automakers have urged the administration to soften its proposal, which is expected to be finalized in coming months.

Last month, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted to bar EPA from moving forward with emissions regulations. The White House immediately threatened a veto of that proposal.

Former President Donald Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Biden in 2024, has vowed to reverse the EV rules.

California’s zero-emission rules will cut smog-causing pollution from light-duty vehicles by 25% by 2037. The rules mandate 35% of the new cars sold be plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), EVs or hydrogen fuel cell by 2026. That proportion will rise to 68% by 2030 and 100% by 2035.

The California waiver request says through 2040, California’s zero emission rules will cost $210.35 billion but have total benefits of $301.41 billion. CARB’s rules allow automakers to sell up to 20% PHEVs by 2035.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Franklin Paul and David Gregorio)