Will the Feds step in?
For decades, the state of California has been an environmental law leader. Many other US states closely watch what California does and, oftentimes, pass similar laws. For example, California was the first to initiate a law allowing for carpool and environmentally friendly-only vehicle lanes. The Golden State also has its own separate emissions laws on top of what the US federal government requires. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) simply isn't good enough for California.
And now, Governor Gavin Newsom's administration has issued a new directive that will very likely be controversial and, perhaps, eventually popular elsewhere. According to The Sacramento Bee, the California state government issued a new directive this past Friday announcing it will stop buying gas-powered sedans. These vehicles would have been government-owned and used. Currently, California's state vehicle fleet includes some 51,000 cars and trucks.
As of last year, just over 3,000 of those were hybrids or zero-emissions vehicles. Starting next year, California government agencies will only be able to buy vehicles from automakers that recognize California's ability to set its own air pollution standards. Currently, the Trump administration is trying to revoke that right. In turn, California is challenging the feds in court.
Friday's directive essentially means new sedans cannot be purchased from the following carmakers: General Motors, Toyota, Mazda, and Fiat Chrysler, all of whom sided with the Trump administration. Meanwhile, Honda, Ford, BMW, and Volkswagen have thrown their weight behind California. Perhaps future state-purchased sedans for government employees could include the likes of the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Jetta.
"Car makers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of California's buying power," Newsom said in a written statement. "In court, and in the marketplace, California is standing up to those who put short-term profits ahead of our health and our future." Eliminating government-owned, gas-powered sedans is obviously the eventual goal. "Our state continues to lead by example by eliminating sedans solely powered by gas," Department of General Services Director Daniel Kim said in a written statement. "This is one of many steps California has taken, and will continue to take, to drive demand for green vehicles."
Will the Trump administration challenge this new directive in court as well? Probably not, but California's latest decision could soon spread to other states.