California Shuns Gas-Powered Cars, Sues EPA

Starting in 2020, new rules impact the state’s vehicle purchases.

November 19, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Late last week, the state of California announced new rules regarding future purchases for the state’s vehicle fleet, reports Car and Driver.

As of today, California state agencies may no longer buy sedans solely powered by an internal-combustion engine, with the exception of public safety vehicles. And starting in January, they may not purchase vehicles from companies that don't recognize the state's power to enforce clean-air standards, which includes Toyota, General Motors and eight other automakers.

Automakers that recognize CARB's authority have signed a deal with the state pledging to follow CARB's stricter fuel-economy rules and not the relaxed national standards that the Trump Administration is pushing But only four automakers have signed: Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW. Other automakers have voiced support for Trump's "one national policy" on fuel economy, which leads to lower average national MPG standards than were agreed to under the Obama Administration.

Big money is at stake though. California reportedly spent $74 million on its fleet purchases in 2018, including $27 million on Chevy vehicles. Of the four companies that have struck a deal with the state, Ford could be the big winner, since the state spent more on Ford vehicles ($18 million) than any other automaker except GM last year.

The California Department of General Services (DGS) released a statement that says the new regulations are just one of many ways it intends to reduce or displace "the consumption of petroleum products by the state fleet." The department said that its efforts to clean up the state vehicle fleet have resulted in those vehicles using 8.6 million fewer gallons of petroleum fuel per year now than they did in 2003. This was accompanied by a rise of approximately 2685% in alternative-fuel use over the same time frame.

In addition, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has announced that the state will lead a multistate coalition in a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency in its "attempt to revoke the portions of a waiver it granted California in 2013 that permit the state to implement its greenhouse gas (GHG) and zero-emission-vehicle (ZEV) standards." Thirteen states follow California's standards, in whole or in part, but 24 total states are suing, as are the cities of New York and Los Angeles.

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