Even though it’s more than 3,000 miles away, California will begin playing an outsized role in dictating Virginia’s automobile sales.

Thanks to the geniuses in Sacramento, it’s possible that dealers may not sell new internal combustion engines after 2035.

Steve Haner explains:

The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board, acting not with discretion but on orders from the General Assembly, voted on December 2 to adopt Advanced Clean Cars Program regulations that delegate ultimate control to the California Air Resources Board. Virginia will simply follow Sacramento’s lead in dictating that an ever-increasing percentage of new car sales be certified as low emission or zero emission by the CARB.

Legally it would be similar to Virginia being forced to comply with federal regulations, except these rules will come from and be amended by California and its governor, regulators and legislature. Who in Virginia gets to vote for them? No one.

Legislation in 2021 directed the Air Pollution Control Board to adopt these rules with no deference to the regulatory processes. If you missed the usual public notices or hotly-contested public hearings, it may be because they didn’t happen. Media coverage has also been sparse. 

Low-emission (think hybrid) and zero-emission (generally electric) vehicles are popular with many buyers already and will likely continue to be subsidized in various ways. Their prevalence was going to grow regardless. But it is California’s goal to ban the sale of internal combustion vehicles and perhaps even low emission hybrids by 2035, as expressed in an executive order from its governor.

If and when that happens in California, it’ll also happen in Virginia.