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February 21, 2021

Assembly votes to adopt clean vehicle standards

Stock Photo
The General Assembly also will consider legislation to study Virginia’s electric charging network and to establish incentives for EVs.
In 2020, and now 2021, Virginia’s General Assembly has taken leaps and bounds forward in tackling the climate crisis, first by working to secure our transition away from fossil fuels to power our daily lives and now by moving to reduce harmful tailpipe pollution by putting cleaner cars on the road. We are not across the finish line yet, but we’re close.
— Michael Town, Virginia League of Conservation Voters executive director
2021 General Assembly
• Convened: Wednesday, Jan. 13

strong>• Adjourns: Saturday, Feb. 27

• Website:

Fauquier’s legislators

• Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-27th/Upperville).

• Del. Michael Webert (R-18th/Marshall).

• Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-31st/Woodbridge).

• Del. Mark Cole (R-88th/Fredericksburg).
By Sarah Vogelsong
Virginia Mercury

In their second year with control of the legislature, Virginia Democrats pushed through another major measure to combat climate change when the Senate on Friday voted to adopt California regulations that set stringent vehicle emissions standards and electric car sales targets.

“We know that our automobile emissions greatly contribute to our environmental problems,” said Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax). “It is incumbent upon us to start making changes.”

The so-called clean car standards were a top-line environmental priority for House Democrats, who this session put forward a suite of bills intended to tackle transportation emissions, which are responsible for almost half of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Preeminent within the package was House Bill 1965 from Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico). Del. Bagby’s clean cars bill allows the State Air Pollution Control Board to adopt not only California’s low-emission vehicle standards, which are stricter than those imposed by the federal government, but also its zero-emission vehicle standards that set binding targets for electric vehicle sales as a proportion of all sales by manufacturers in the state.

But while the proposal initially faced stiff headwinds in a legislature that has historically been deferential to business, it gained the support of Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration, which has moved aggressively on decarbonization goals, as well as the endorsement of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association. The organization’s CEO and president, Don Hall, became one of the bill’s most vocal champions, telling lawmakers on one panel that in the future they would be able to tell people, “I was there the day Virginia voted to truly become an electrification state.”

That “extraordinary leadership” helped ease the bill’s passage, said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Deputy Director Chris Bast, who pointed out that the Virginia group is “the first auto dealer association in the country to advocate for the ZEV program.”

Other negotiations, particularly the addition of a carbon-credit trading framework used in other states that have adopted the zero-emissions vehicle standards, chipped away resistance from the initially recalcitrant Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the largest representative of the U.S. auto industry. While still unenthusiastic about the proposal, the alliance eventually switched its stance to neutral.

Nevertheless, while the legislation passed the House on a 55-44 party-line vote, whether it could clear the more conservative Senate remained uncertain up until the moment it landed on the chamber floor early Friday afternoon. Democrats hold a narrow 21-18 majority in that chamber, and Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) had opposed the bill in committee, citing high-profile utility bankruptcies and reliability issues in California.

The biggest challenge to the measure came Thursday, with the introduction of an amendment by Sen. Stephen Newman (R-Bedford) that would not only require the General Assembly to pass the bill a second time in 2022 but would require the legislature to approve any future updates of the emissions standards.

The changes “would have effectively gutted the bill,” said Trip Pollard, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center who was closely involved with the development of the legislation.

“It was clearly an attempt to throw a wrench in the whole proceedings,” Mr. Pollard said.

Sen. Newman and other Republicans in the Senate railed against the prospect of tying Virginia’s transportation emissions standards to California’s.

“Electric cars are coming, but why would we hold California out as the divine standard when they’re experiencing a mass exodus of their citizens and their businesses?” asked Sen. Richard Stuart (R-Stafford), who cast the bill as a “draconian” policy. “Let Virginia lead in its own way. Let’s not follow California. They are not an example for the rest of the country and certainly not Virginia right now.”

Democrats countered that when it comes to transportation emissions, there is no Virginia way. The federal Clean Air Act gives states two choices in setting such emissions standards: adopt those set by the federal government or adopt those set by California under a special waiver in the law. To date, 14 other states and Washington, D.C., have opted for the latter course, embracing either the LEV standard alone or both the LEV and ZEV standards.

“We can’t cede state control by adopting clean car standards, because we don’t have any state-level oversight to cede at the moment,” said Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond). “Rather, with this bill we would claim our right under the Clean Air Act to adopt stronger state-based emissions standards as 14 other states have already done and three more are in the process of doing.”

Sen. McClellan and others argued that by joining the group of states that have adopted the California standards, Virginia will be able to have a “seat at the table” in crafting future updates, and that the long federal review process will offer the legislature sufficient time to withdraw from its commitment if it doesn’t approve of future targets.

Republicans remained unconvinced. Sen. Newman, who told the Senate that he owns a Tesla and enjoys driving it, called the move “a bad precedent.” And Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) said the legislature shouldn’t “be imposing this kind of big government decision-making on families in Virginia, on businesses in Virginia.”

“We should not be giving away the store to California or Northern Virginia,” Sen. Obenshain said.

The warnings about California, which have surfaced frequently in energy policy discussions among Virginia lawmakers, prompted one Democratic senator to push back at the dire picture Republicans have painted.

“For years at Halloween, I used to open the door and go, ‘Boo!’ at the kids when they’d knock on the door,” said Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax). “But now I’ve found something even more frightening. When they knock on the door, I open the door and I go, ‘California!’”

The bill cleared the chamber on a 21-15 vote. The addition of amendments including the carbon credit framework will trigger the bill’s return to the House for its approval, but people involved in the bill’s development said they expected few roadblocks there.

Mr. Bast said the governor “looks forward to taking action on the bill in due course” and that the administration expects to move “pretty rapidly once this becomes law to adopt the regulations.”

Environmental groups celebrated the Senate vote, with the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club noting that the legislation will make the commonwealth the first state in the Southeast to adopt clean car standards.

“In 2020, and now 2021, Virginia’s General Assembly has taken leaps and bounds forward in tackling the climate crisis, first by working to secure our transition away from fossil fuels to power our daily lives and now by moving to reduce harmful tailpipe pollution by putting cleaner cars on the road,” said Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. “We are not across the finish line yet, but we’re close.”

Mr. Hall, of the auto dealers association, said the legislation “positions Virginia as a leader in a global movement.”

However, he cautioned, further investment in infrastructure and incentives will be necessary to carry out the transition to electric vehicles.

Some of that work is already underway. A proposal to study the state’s existing charging infrastructure has been working through the legislature, as has a bill that would establish an EV incentive program. The latter, House Bill 1979 from Del. David Reid, (D-Loudoun), also cleared the Senate on Friday and is expected to be the subject of ongoing negotiations to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions and secure additional funding beyond the $5 million House Democrats have earmarked for the program’s first year.
“Virginia’s already taken some important steps,” said Mr. Pollard. “But nothing like these steps.”
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CarlMarx · May 16, 2021 at 3:24 pm
I guess a clean car is really something that is very important. You know, it is actually a good business idea. I guess it will bring you good money even if you have no sufficient experience. In this article for newbies you can read about how to start such a project and what washers shall be used for better result. I wish you luck!
Fauqyeah · February 22, 2021 at 4:16 pm
First off, we only have one planet, right? Electric vehicles don't generate any emissions where they are USED but there are plenty of environmental impacts in the entire life cycle of these vehicles, not least the rare earth elements needed to produce the batteries. Elements which make us dependent on other countries, btw.

Second, why are we talking about subsidizing rich people again? Even the cheapest electric cars are still over $30k. My (apparently environment destroying) little gas powered car that I bought used has a sticker price (new) of about $15k. And buying a used EV? Sounds great until you realize the batteries are at the end of their life and buying a replacement costs as much as my car did.

Also, EVs may be great for people in cities, but in the country where I live, unless the weather outside is perfect (because heat/ac can reduce your mileage DRASTICALLY in these) chances of me being able to run all my errands and make it back on a charge are slim.

Why is the city/rural divide growing? Things like this. Can't afford a car in the city? Take public transportation. Can't afford one out here? Too bad you were too ignorant to not move to the wonderful center of culture that is a city.
JohnQ · February 22, 2021 at 12:45 pm
What is next Virginians COE's (Certificates of Entitlement)? Democrat Socialists will stop at nothing to force their will on the people of Virginia. Before you know it in addition to the current taxes on vehicle use and ownership, we might just be paying for the privilege of owning a vehicle and using it on the road.

COE's are currently being considered in a number of countries as a method to ease congestion and curb pollution. In essence it forces citizens to use mass transit, bicycles or walk. All of which the elite Democrat Socialist class of Virginia would
find appealing.

AngryBob · February 22, 2021 at 10:52 am
The cost of your next car just went up by at least $10,000. Thank a democrat.
Jeffersonian American · February 22, 2021 at 6:52 am
1. The State of California's Radical Environmental Extremist Policies over the past 50 years has turned the state into an Environmental and Economic disaster if you simply review the massive amount of evidence- be it the highest energy prices in America (electric and fossil fuels), water management, forest management, etc. No Virginia citizens in their right mind should EVER want to embrace California Radical Environmental Extremism for our own Commonwealth. It will not only cause sky high energy prices across the board, oppressive taxation, more drought, more wildfires, and place human beings at the bottom of the quality of life spectrum; and it will begin an economic devastation so profound that citizens will flee Virginia to escape the Environmental Terrorism policies to be enacted by Radical Left Democrat majorities and their feckless Republican Big Government Fools.

2. WE ALREADY HAVE an economically stable, environmentally-friendly Commonwealth of Virginia environment with far lower energy costs compared to California, energy efficient and modern-technology, clean burning, extremely low-emissions gasoline cars and trucks with some of the cleanest air and water in the nation, without the need for disastrous draconian measures turning Virginia into California's Environmental Extremist Disaster Areas (water starvation and rationing; colossal raging wildfires, sky-high gasoline prices, sky-high electricity monthly bills for residents; rolling electricity blackouts, etc.) which are all hostile to our human race economic well being and environmental balance that we currently enjoy here in Virginia. Simply put- WE DON'T HAVE TO LIVE AND SUFFER like Californians do right now- and they are desperately trying to make their needed corrections at the State levels to overturn their Radical Democrat Regimes which have to steal elections there to maintain their insane authoritative control over the every day lives and safety and economic well being of their subjects- the people and citizens of California. Millions more Californians have simply had enough and are fleeing the state to escape the Democrat Environmental Extremist horrors there.

3. All Do-Good Democrat Environmental Extremists don't want you to know the devastating human cost of their Electric Vehicle Feel Good Virtue Signaling- the human cost on the Congolese Children who are mining much of the world's Cobalt needed to create every single Prius Battery and other electric vehicle battery- nor do they want you to know all the electric vehicle charging stations they envision for the future which must be powered by coal-burning electric power generation plants or nuclear power plants- things all Democrat Environmental Extremists hate with a passion. Don't just take my word for it- read what the Liberal U.K. Daily Mail reported on the poor tens of thousands of Congolese children who have died making your Toyota Prius, Tesla and other EV car and vehicle batteries so you can drive around feeling smug while using coal-fired electric power generation plants and nuclear power plants to re-charge your tiny, dangerous, killer cars with no room for human passengers to live in a fender-bender accident (No Thanks- I'll keep my clean burning modern crew cab pickup and recycled classic vehicles restored to 1990s cleaner burning emissions standards).

So whenever you see an electric or hybrid car driving around town- remember the very terrible, tragic human cost in the lives of tens of thousands of young Congolese Children (Black Lives Matter, After All, Right Democrats?) whenever you are driving your "Environmentally Friendly" electric cars, trucks, and using your cute battery pack-powered lawnmowers and grass trimmers, etc. How many times do we hear Democrats crying out, "For the children, for the children?" Yet the Radical Left Democrat Virginia politicians in control of the state want to enact an extremist electric vehicle bill which will result in MORE BLACK CONGOLESE CHILDREN, age 4 and up- to die in places like the Congo to get the average 33 pounds of cobalt needed to make every single Prius or Tesla or other EV vehicle battery so American Democrats can drive around feeling superior and smug in their "Environmental Awareness." Intellectually Honest Virginians should read the reporting below and weep- then contact your Virginia House and Senate legislators to END this madness BEFORE this bill destroys our Virginia and our Virginia way of life completely. TELL ME VIRGINIA DEMOCRATS- DO BLACK LIVES REALLY MATTER?

Savefauquiercounty2019 · February 21, 2021 at 5:10 pm
When Nader warned previous administrations for YEARS regarding germ warfare and to plan and prepare and prevent, they did not listen and atomic bomb named COVID landed on us. There is no way I would trust pushing everyone into an electric vehicle. If you trust it, think twice. Citizens should have a right to choose between electric or gas. We can't permit our government to take control. If they shut down the electric, our infrastructures collapse at least we will have our gas vehicles for transport. Windmills and solar panels are not indestructible either. We should not depend on them and we should be pushing back on when they deteriorate will they end up in the land fills like the rest of the cheap products and materials sent over from China. Don't be fooled. Write your legislators and tell them you want to have a choice. They didn't care to stop the COVID from spreading throughout the world, they won't care if you don't have transport either. Stop our dependency on countries that hate us. Bring back American Manufacturers. Buy AMerican products. Look on line and purchase made in America first. Go to businesses that hire Americans first. SUpport the USA. Stop giving our funds to foreign countries. We have families right here in Fauquier County so poor they don't have running water or utilities.
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