Bill Targets Sales of Gas-Powered Vehicles

The measure would require half of all U.S. new passenger vehicle sales to be zero emission by 2025.

October 23, 2020

WASHINGTON—This week, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced the Zero-Emissions Vehicles Act of 2020 (ZEV), which seeks to eventually prohibit the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger vehicles by 2035, Oil Price Information Service reports.

The legislation follows California Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order signed last month to ban sales of new cars and trucks powered by gasoline or diesel by 2035—all new vehicles sold in the state must be zero emission by that date.

The Merkley-Levin bill would mandate 50% of new passenger vehicle sales be zero emission by 2025, with 5% increases each year after to hit 100% by 2035. To achieve compliance, the measure would generate a tradable credit market to give automobile manufacturers a credit per ZEV deliverable for sale in the U.S. Auto companies unable to meet ZEV targets could purchase credits from companies exceeding the percentages. Credit overages could be held for five years, but all would need be used by 2035.

Merkley and Levin indicated ZEV would “fix what is currently only a patchwork of state-level” regulations while accelerating the market for electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars. “If we don't make things in America, we won't have a middle class in America,” said Merkley. “And if we don't save our planet from climate chaos, our entire economy and our nation's public health will end up in shambles. By moving aggressively and boldly now, we can help save Americans from the dire health and economic impacts of the climate crisis and make sure American workers are the ones building the next generation of cars for the world.”

ZEV co-sponsors include Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), plus 16 House Democrats.

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