Dear Friend,

Today, Governor Youngkin announced that Virginia’s participation in California’s emission standards will sunset at the end of the year.

This is big news. Let’s rewind a bit to learn more about the history of this issue and why it’s important for our state.

In order to avoid a state-by-state patchwork of emission standards, the federal Clean Air Act prevents states from adopting their individual emission standards. A waiver, however, does exist for California. California has adopted standards that are more strict than the federal standards. States are left with two options: following the federal standards or the California standards.

In 2021, Democrats in the General Assembly passed a new law that directed the State Air Pollution Control Board to adopt California’s existing emission standards known as “Advanced Clean Cars I.” This plan would have required 35% of all new cars sold in Virginia by 2026 to be electric. Currently, only about 9% of new car sales in Virginia are electric.

California subsequently adopted “Advanced Clean Cars II” that will go into effect January 1, 2025 and replace “Advanced Clean Cars I.” This new plan prohibits the sale of new gas-powered cars after 2035, severely restricting Virginia’s ability to buy a vehicle that is right for their family. Auto manufacturers have indicated that they cannot meet the 2035 deadline and we lack the charging network required for a significant increase in electric vehicle usage.

The 2021 law required the state to adhere to the existing California emission standards, not the subsequent “Advanced Clean Cars II” standard. As such, Virginia’s participation in California’s emission standards plan will sunset at the end of this year and we will again adhere to the more widely utilized federal standards. The General Assembly passes laws, not ideas. The 2021 law was clear that Virginia was to adhere to “Advanced Clean Cars I.” If the majority at the time had intended to permanently enjoin Virginia to Califonia’s emission standards, they could have written that into the law.

You can read the Attorney General’s official opinion here that supports the Governor’s actions. Additionally, You can read a background memo from the Secretary of Natural & Historic Resources here.

During my time in the House of Delegates, many constituents reached out to me on this matter. I am glad to see the hard work of the Governor and Attorney General pay off in such a way that will benefit Virginians.

I hope you found this issue-specific update beneficial and informative. If I can assist you or your family with a state-related matter, please let me know.

Mike Cherry