Governor Glenn Youngkin has announced that Virginia will no longer adhere to emissions standards set by unelected California bureaucrats, reversing a misguided policy from the previous administration.

Federal law uniquely entitles California to adopt its own vehicle emissions standards and permits other states to follow either federal or California regulations. Since the 1970s, California has set its own rules because the federal guidelines aren’t strict enough to reach air quality standards in a state that has as many cars on the road as California does; California leads the nation in total automobile registrations.   

Over time, California has radically expanded emissions standards and exported its Advanced Clean Cars (ACC I & II) regulation to other states. In 2021, Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia Democrats adopted this California clean cars, electric vehicle (EV) mandate. If kept on the books, it would have required 100% of new cars sold by model year 2035, and 35% of new cars as soon as model year 2026, to be EVs. However, as recently as 2023, EVs amounted to a mere 9% of vehicles sold in the Commonwealth.

The average upfront cost of an EV is nearly $10,000 more than a gas-powered car. This means that Virginians would have had to pay an extra $1.23 billion on new cars or face millions in penalties on traditional gas-powered vehicles. For Model Years 2026-2035, the California regulation foresaw possible penalties of $20,000 per non-EV sold by Virginia auto dealers. The regulation also meant following a convoluted system of “Zero Emission Credits” that can be earned by manufacturers of EVs.

Recognizing the undue burden that Virginia Democrats and their California handlers tried to place on Virginians, Governor Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares have now overturned their state’s adherence to the California EV mandate.

On June 4, AG Miyares issued an official opinion stating that Virginia law does not require the state to follow ACC II, and on June 5, Governor Youngkin announced that Virginia will be free of this regulation at the end of the year. When ACC I expires in December, Virginia will revert to federal emissions standards.

In his announcement, Youngkin said “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.”

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) supports Glenn Youngkin’s decision to restore consumer choice, recognizing that EVs are an attractive option for some but should not be forced on all drivers. More importantly, like Governor Youngkin, ATR believes Virginians should be the authors of Virginian laws and regulations.