Governor Gavin Newsom recently ordered the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. Since the 1990s, 16 states have adopted CARB’s more stringent emission standards in place of federal regulations enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency. Newsom’s mandatory transition to zero emission vehicles will thus have a domino effect in the CARB states (including small, rural Vermont), which will be legally bound to outlaw the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles.
Battery-run electric vehicles are the most advanced zero emission vehicle technology in the market. Californians buy around 50 percent of electric vehicles sold in the nation, with Tesla accounting for 75 percent of those sales. Owning an electric vehicle has become an identity marker of anti-fossil fuel climate activism. However, assigning values to engines—“electric good, internal combustion bad”—shields the complex, real world system of electric vehicle technology from much needed scrutiny.