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The Wall Street Journal

Sept. 28, 2020, 4:47 p.m. EDT

EPA chief mocks California’s 2035 ban on gas-powered cars: ‘You can’t even keep the lights on today’

Wheeler claims plan would strain electric grid, will likely need EPA approval

By Andrew Restuccia

Associated Press
Andrew Wheeler testifies at his confirmation hearing in 2019.

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency raised concerns about California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to ban sales of new gasoline and diesel-powered passenger cars in the state by 2035, arguing that the mandate is impractical and possibly illegal.

In a letter to Newsom on Monday, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said a statewide shift to electric vehicles would strain California’s electric grid.

“California’s record of rolling blackouts — unprecedented in size and scope — coupled with recent requests to neighboring states for power 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,” Wheeler wrote in the letter.

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.

Newsom’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The governor’s order, which he signed last week, is an ambitious step to bolster electric vehicles and slash greenhouse-gas emissions. The order is aimed at new-car sales and won’t prohibit Californians from owning or selling existing gas-powered cars, Newsom, a Democrat, said last week.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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