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Youngkin, Miyares scheming to withdraw Virginia from Advanced Clean Car mandate

Chris Graham
electric vehicle
(© kinwun – stock.adobe.com)

Republicans have failed three different times to repeal a 2021 state law tying Virginia to auto-emissions standards set by California.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, and Attorney General Jason Miyares, a Republican who wants to succeed Youngkin as governor next year, rolled out a novel approach to their partisans’ failures in the General Assembly.

“Once again, Virginia is declaring independence, this time from a misguided electric vehicle mandate imposed by unelected leaders nearly 3,000 miles away from the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said in a statement in a press release from his office on Wednesday, in which he announced “the end of the California electric vehicle mandate in Virginia.”

You can’t just do that, right?

I mean, a governor can’t just declare independence from a state law.

Right?

The novel approach, which will almost certainly cost taxpayers when it’s challenged in court: Miyares has issued an official legal opinion to the effect that the 2021 state law, passed by Democratic majorities in the House of Delegates and State Senate, and signed into law by then-Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, is tied specifically to mandates in place in 2021.

The California Air Resources Board has since updated its Advanced Clean Car standards, with new, stricter regulations referred to as ACC2 that are set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

The hallmark of the new standards is a requirement that 100 percent of new cars sold in Model Year 2035 to be electric vehicles.

“The idea that government should tell people what kind of car they can or can’t purchase is fundamentally wrong,” Youngkin said in the statement issued by his office. “Virginians deserve the freedom to choose which vehicles best fit the needs of their families and businesses. The law is clear, and I am proud to announce Virginians will no longer be forced to live under this out-of-touch policy.”

“EV mandates like California’s are unworkable and out of touch with reality, and thankfully the law does not bind us to their regulations,” Miyares said in a statement in the same release. “California does not control which cars Virginians buy and any thoughts that automobile manufacturers should face millions of dollars in civil penalties rather than allowing our citizens to choose their own vehicles is completely absurd.”

That sounds more political than legal, doesn’t it?

“This is not the first time the Governor has taken illegal action to defy the General Assembly and undermine efforts to reduce emissions from our most polluting sectors,” said Kim Jemaine, director at Advanced Energy United, a national business association of clean energy and transportation providers. “The governor does not have the authority to unilaterally withdraw Virginia from participation in ACC2. Dozens of legislative efforts to withdraw Virginia from participation in ACC2 through the proper mechanisms have failed. Any effort to move forward with withdrawal despite that fact is at the least illegal and at most an attempt to usurp power from the General Assembly and govern by fiat.”

You can just sense the lawyers for environmental groups mobilizing their response as you’re reading this.

“Taking away one of our best tools to protect Virginians from power plant pollution wasn’t enough. Now, Gov. Youngkin wants Virginians to keep breathing tailpipe pollution, too, despite laws on the books mandating the Commonwealth to tackle both of these major drivers of the climate crisis and detriments to public health,” said Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.

“By continuing to stand in the way of climate progress, Youngkin is jeopardizing our health and our economy,” Town said. “The transition to a cleaner transportation future is well underway, with most major car manufacturers responding to consumer demand with plans to transition most or all of their fleet to clean cars in the coming years. In the face of a massive economic opportunity, Youngkin is fine with Virginia being left in the dust on the road to nowhere.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].

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