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Youngkin Seeks to Override Legislature on Clean Cars Law

Youngkin Seeks to Override Legislature on Clean Cars Law

Virginia’s Governor doubles down on undemocratic pro-polluter agenda

RICHMOND, VA— Governor Glenn Youngkin announced today that his administration will refuse to implement Advanced Clean Car Standards, a regulation Virginia joined through legislation in 2021 to phase in zero-emission vehicles in line with major manufacturer’s timelines and climate deadlines to meet net-zero carbon emissions. This announcement runs contrary to a determination in 2022 by the Attorney General, Jason Miyares, that Virginia must adopt the updated regulations pursuant to the 2021 law, and that the legislature would need to amend the law to prevent adoption.

Today’s announcement is in line with Governor Youngkin’s repeated attempts to override state law in pursuit of a pro-pollution agenda. In recent years, he directed the Air Board to repeal the regulations tying Virginia to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a pollution reduction program that funds flood resilience and low-income energy efficient housing. 

Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in the Commonwealth, making Clean Car Standards one of the most significant steps that the legislature has taken to reduce air pollution and combat climate change. Widespread EV adoption would save Virginians nearly $30 billion in public health costs while saving thousands of lives, according to the American Lung Association. 

The Clean Cars rules apply to manufacturers selling vehicles in Virginia, not to individual customers or automobile dealers. The rules only apply to new cars. According to 2022 polling, 76% of Virginians support requiring manufacturers to provide a minimum number of electric vehicles in Virginia.

“Yet again, Governor Youngkin seeks to undermine democracy to ensure corporate polluters can continue to cash in at the expense of Virginians’ health and our planet,” said Victoria Higgins, Virginia Director for Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “This Governor has repeatedly demonstrated a belief that he is above the law and is happy to pollute our air and water if it means he can score a couple political points with Big Oil and national donors. Emissions from cars are both our biggest contributors to climate change in Virginia and a public health crisis, consequences that are shouldered disproportionately by low-income families and people of color. Thankfully, Governor Youngkin’s days in power are dwindling. We are looking forward to a governor who will stand up for the environment and state law.”

Major manufacturers like General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford, and Volvo have pledged to shift towards production of EVs in line with the timeline established by the updated Advanced Clean Cars regulations. 

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Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. Founded in 2002, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.