Analysts and conservatives believe a Democrat-led plan to propose a ban on gas-powered cars in California later this year is a pie-in-the-sky scheme that ignores important factors about the state’s auto industry.
Assemblyman Phil Ting plans to introduce a bill in January that would ban the sale of gas-powered cars produced after 2040. The Democratic lawmaker said California drivers must adopt electric vehicles if the state is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – but some are scoffing at the push.
“The market is moving this way. The entire world is moving this way. At some point you need to set a goal and put a line in the sand,” Ting told reporters Friday. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club have joined his push to wipe out the state’s fossil fuel industry.
“It’s an important conversation to have and we’re glad it’s starting to get some traction,” said Gina Coplon-Newfield, an official with the Sierra Club who works on promoting green energy technology. Ting and Sierra Club are meeting some stiff resistance from people who suggest the idea probably not doable.
Kerry Jackson, a fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, a California-based free-market non-profit group, for instance, told reporters that the push to force citizens to abandon their gas-powered cars is another example of the state’s overzealous environmentalism.
“The reaction is like, ‘Gee, somebody has been reading The Onion and they got taken in by the parody,” he said, responding to lawmakers’ desire to delete the fossil fuel industry. “But then it fades a little bit and you go, ‘Yeah, this is California.’”
Electric vehicle sales in California amount to less than five percent of the state’s overall car sales, despite the Golden State’s title as a champion for the electric vehicle market. Analysts, meanwhile, believe the market for these types of vehicles is not anywhere near large enough to overcome gas-powered cars.
“I think really the lag here is consumers,” Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with Edmunds, told reporters Friday. “For the automakers, they have to balance the lawmakers’ desires versus what they can actually sell.”
Ting is one several California Democrats pushing to increase incentives for drivers to adopt electric vehicles. His overall push could hit stiff resistance from an unlikely foe: Democrats who are still tied in with the state’s strong manufacturing unions.
Democrats passed an amendment to a California program earlier this month requiring manufacturers verify that they are “fair and responsible in their treatment of workers” before they can take advantage of a $2,500 rebate encouraging citizens to buy Tesla vehicles.
The legislation was a shot across the bow of Tesla, a company that relied on a $82.5 million subsidy from the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, which gives extra incentive to 32,842 Tesla buyers in seven years.
California’s legislature defeated a pair of bills that would have required all electricity in the state to come from non-carbon sources by 2045. Unions vehemently opposed the bill, primarily because they feared the bill didn’t do enough to help protect union workers.
The bill was derailed despite California’s huge Democratic margins in both houses and the Gov. Jerry Brown, who consistently promotes himself as a climate change warrior. Activists were disappointed that unions stymied the effort.
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