The state of California asked the Environmental Protection Agency this week to approve its plan requiring all new vehicles sold in the state to be electric or plug-in electric hybrids by 2035. The plan, previously approved by the California Air Resources Board, is pending approval of a waiver under the Clean Air Act. 

In response to California's request, Tim Carroll, a spokesperson for the EPA said, "As with all waiver requests from California, we’ll follow an open public process in considering it, as the agency routinely does." To date, the Biden administration has refused to endorse setting a timeline for phasing out gasoline-only vehicles. 

Based on a proposal released in April, the EPA plans to significantly reduce vehicle emissions through 2032. By 2030, automakers are forecast to produce 60 percent EVs with the number rising to 67 percent by 2032. This amounts to a tenfold increase from 2022, when only 5.8 percent of the vehicles sold in the US were EVs.  

California's zero-emission rules aim to cut smog-causing pollution from light-duty vehicles by 25 percent before 2037. To achieve that goal, the rules mandate that 35 percent of the new cars sold in 2026 be plug-in hybrid electric, EVs or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. That proportion would then rise to 68 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035. CARB's regulation would allow automakers to sell up to 20 percent plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in 2035 as long as they had a minimum electric-only range of 50 miles. 

A growing number of states are also adopting California's EV rules, including Washington, Virginia, Vermont, Oregon, New York, Massachusetts, and recently Rhode Island. These regulations are more stringent than what the Biden administration has proposed.  

California's standards are similar to the regulations enacted in Europe. The European Union originally planned to ban sales of all combustion engine vehicles by 2035 but recently altered the rules to allow for PHEVs and vehicles which run on synthetic fuels. Volkswagen and Stellantis have argued that the rules are basically useless, with Volkswagen going so far to push for a delay in the Euro 7 regulations which take effect in 2025. 

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