Written by Michael Huling
On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order declaring that the production and sale of gas-powered cars and trucks will be illegal in California beginning in 2035. The order dictates that all new cars and trucks will need to be “zero-emission vehicles” in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.
“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Newsom. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”
The appeal to the health of children is a common tool used by virtually every politician ever as justification for something that they want, and this appears to be no different. That sentiment combined with the bizarre connection between wildfires—whose severity has been dramatically decreasing over the past century—and gas-powered vehicles—which are also more fuel efficient than they have ever been—makes for a politically seductive policy, but one that has little scientific basis.
Of course, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which should not be confused with “pollution.” The average global temperature has risen steadily since the Industrial Revolution, and corresponding changes in climate shouldn’t be dismissed. However, a state that has banned the production of nuclear energy—which is zero-emission—has little credibility with regard to making broad changes to energy-related activities.
Beyond that, Gov. Newsom’s growing reliance on executive orders should give everyone pause—particularly those who express anger and even fear when President Trump issues executive orders. Newsom has repeatedly usurped the State Legislature to mandate policy changes from the executive branch, which is a power he does not have under the California Constitution. Between his executive orders abolishing capital punishment, mandating business and school closures, requiring statewide mail-in voting, and now banning gas-powered vehicles, Newsom has nullified the Legislature to the detriment of Californians and democracy.
“Once again, Governor Newsom is using his unilateral authority to now ban gas-powered cars in California,” said State Senator Melissa Melendez. “At a time when the Governor has no answers to help millions of unemployed Californians receive their unemployment benefits. At a time when he can’t keep the lights on in our homes. At a time when people aren’t driving their cars anyway because the state is still in lockdown.”
The power shutoffs across California in recent weeks are also cause for concern in terms of the state’s ability to secure a power grid that will now be faced with an enormous increase in electricity demand. Newsom has no plan for this and likely doesn’t believe that he needs one since he won’t be in office come 2035. The ability to unilaterally enact your desired policies without having to face the repercussions is a privilege for Gov. Newsom, but devastating for Californians.