California prepares to end sale of gas-powered cars

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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Sept. 23 that California will transition completely to the sale of new zero-emission vehicles rather than gas-powered cars and passenger trucks by 2035.

This executive order aims to reduce California’s contribution to climate change while maintaining economic progress and jobs. 

Gas-powered vehicles rely on fossil fuels, meaning that when vehicles burn gasoline to run, they produce greenhouse gases that collect in the atmosphere. This growth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is acknowledged by the Environmental Protection Agency as a driving force and indicator of climate change.

“Humans have caused major climate changes to happen already,” said Dr. Bonjun Koo, professor of environmental science. “Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global climate change would continue to happen for at least several more decades, if not centuries.”

Transportation produces over 50% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, 95% of the state’s toxic diesel emissions and 80% of the state’s smog-forming pollution according to CA.gov. With the new measures in Newsom’s plan, the state expects a decrease of over 35% in greenhouse gas emissions.

The order also outlines plans to implement new health and safety measures to limit the negative effects of oil extraction on communities and the building of more fueling and charging stations for zero-emission vehicles.

“I believe this is a good way to protect the environment and is an important order to be implemented,” said Tara Duncan, junior environmental science and sustainability major. “Bringing this topic to the attention of the public and integrating the use of renewable resources into something used every day is a great way to encourage people to make choices independently and become more educated regarding the state of our current environment, especially here in California.”

Duncan said that banning the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035 will result in the use of more renewable resources to power cars, which can help the environment, but the affordability of vehicles powered by alternative fuel sources such as rechargeable batteries might present an issue. Additionally, she said the state may face waste issues related to these fuel sources because batteries become toxic waste. However, she said that, with additional research, the state should move forward with its plan to implement zero-emission vehicles.

Madison Santiago, junior environmental science major, said she believes legislation supporting the use of alternative fuel sources is important.

“It is a good way to protect the environment,” Santiago said. “By reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, we can slow down global warming’s effects. Also, by limiting the need to extract more oil from the ground, we can better preserve sensitive ecosystems.”

However, she said the transition to electric cars might face obstacles due to a lack of public understanding about how to use the new technology.

“Although I applaud the ambitious time goal of 2035, I am not yet sure if it will be feasible,” Santiago said. “For so long people have relied on gas-powered vehicles that many people are unsure of the new renewable technology. People need to be able to trust these products or they will not want to invest in them. 

“Thus, well-known, reliable car companies must begin introducing their clean air vehicles so that the public has a wider selection to choose from. Making this technology accessible to working-class individuals, the primary commuters is a key piece in whether this plan can succeed or not.”

Currently, Newsom’s plan only applies to the sale of new cars and passenger trucks within the state. The use of gas-powered vehicles will still be allowed if they were bought before 2035.

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