California officials are contemplating their own ban on combustion-engine vehicles. The move would echo similarly announced plans in several European nations, which are either banning combustion engines entirely or mandating electrification several decades from now.
Gov. Jerry Brown is reportedly mulling with the idea now as the state grapples with on-road air pollution. His thought process was exposed by Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, in a recent interview with Bloomberg.
Nichols says the Governor Brown has expressed concern that the state has not already announced planned bans of internal-combustion engines. California has set a target to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent from its 1990 levels by 2050. Most experts believe a combustion engine ban is the only way to realistically achieve the state’s goal.
A ban of combustion vehicles in the largest car market in the United States would likely have seismic ramifications throughout the industry. Last year alone, over two million vehicles were sold in California, meaning policy-making in the state will yield ripple effects regardless of other states’ feelings regarding the climate change debate.
There are some remaining legal questions to how California would implement a combustion engine ban. The state could leverage the 1970 Clean Air Act by asking the EPA for a waiver from its benchmarks in order to achieve its own. However, the Trump Administration’s EPA is not likely to approve a waiver.
The other legal means California could implement include rules and regulations on vehicle registration. This could include potentially banning the registration of internal-combustion engine vehicles to effectively police a ban. Other means could include banning pollution-causing vehicles from state highway systems.
Regardless of California’s intent to implement a ban or not, said ban will likely be several decades away. Every country that has announced a ban thus far–such as France and the U.K–have very long time horizons in order for the automobile industry to adapt to the post-combustion propulsion era.