Last week, I reported that California Gov. Gavin Nesom had signed an executive order banning the sale of new cars and diesel vehicles in the state after 2035.

This week, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler mocked Newsom’s plan to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035, saying the proposal raises “significant questions of legality.”

… Wheeler sent Newsom a letter questioning how the state could add millions of electric vehicles despite having “a record of rolling blackouts.” He said it “begs the question of how you expect to run an electric car fleet that will come with significant increases in electricity demand, when you can’t even keep the lights on today.”

California had its first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years last month when demand for electricity during a heat wave was so high the state ran out of power. More than half a million homes and businesses lost power for about an hour. The state came close to mandatory power shutoffs a few other times this year, but was able to avoid them.

Wheeler also notes that the ban would also require the EPA’s approval, which doesn’t seem likely to happen.

Mr. Wheeler also said the order likely wouldn’t be able to be implemented by the California Air Resources Board without approval from the EPA, noting that the Trump administration in 2019 took away California’s power to set its own vehicle tailpipe emissions standards.

Finally, Wheeler pointed out the scientific realities related to the rolling blackouts and their impact on public health and the environment.

Wheeler doubled-down on California’s recent blackouts and power shortages, which he said have caused a “series of otherwise preventable environmental and public health consequences.”

The EPA Administrator pointed to a blackout-caused pump station failure, which resulted in 50,000 gallons of raw sewage to be spilled directly into the Oakland Estuary.

The power grid problems also resulted in the California Independent System Operator – the organization that operates the state’s energy market – to seek an emergency exemption from federal air quality standards in order to maintain power.

That request was granted, but Wheeler said it resulted in an increase of pollution such as fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxide.


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