Wilt Introduces Legislation to Untangle Virginia from California Vehicle Emissions Standard

November 8, 2022

Harrisonburg- On Wednesday Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham) filed legislation to untangle Virginia from the California Vehicle Emissions Standard, Advanced Clean Cars II. This standard calls for 100% of new passenger cars, light duty trucks and SUVs sold to be zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035. Practically speaking this will eliminate the allowable sale of internal combustion engine vehicles and require all new vehicles sold to be predominantly electric.

“With rampant inflation already hitting Virginia families hard, it’s absurd that we would allow such a massive government mandate to move forward when we know it will only add to their struggles through increased transportation costs in the coming years,” said Wilt. “I support a market driven transition to cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles, but the plain reality is it’s highly unlikely we will have the infrastructure in place to support the aggressive and arbitrary transition required under Advanced Clean Cars II. Vehicle manufacturers and others have confirmed as much. Proponents of the mandate have claimed no one is forced to buy a new EV, but what do we think will happen to the price of conventional used vehicles? They will skyrocket, squeezing low to middle income folks even harder. We must pump the breaks on this before it can inflict irrevocable harm on Virginia families and our economic competitiveness.”

In 2021, the then Democratic controlled General Assembly passed legislation requiring Virginia to follow California’s vehicle emissions standard. While at the time that standard did not culminate in requiring 100% of new vehicles sold to be ZEVs, in August of this year the California Air Resources Board updated their standard to the more stringent Advanced Clean Cars II. Starting with model year 2026 35% of new vehicles sold must be zero emissions and that percentage steadily increases every year thereafter until reaching a 100% requirement for the 2035 model year. Virginia is obligated to follow this more aggressive mandate unless the legislature intervenes to roll it back.

Delegate Wilt initially pursued this issue in the 2022 session. While it passed the House of Delegates the proposal did not garner the necessary support in the Democrat controlled State Senate. With the new reality of the more aggressive 100% ZEV mandate, the Delegate is hopeful the proposal can gain some bi-partisan support this year. Governor Youngkin has called for a repeal of the California emissions standard in Virginia and backing out of the mandate was a recommendation included in the recently released Virginia Energy Plan.