State Sen. Pete Harkham, D-Peekskill, wants New York state to join California in phasing out gas-fueled vehicles.

Harkham’s legislation (S.9008) would amend the state Environmental Conservation Law and spells out strict time frames for certain types of new vehicles to be zero-emissions. Passenger cars and trucks would be phased out by 2035, off-road vehicles and equipment would also be phased out by 2035, and medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles would be phased out by 2045.

A state council would be given until Jan. 31, 2021, to develop a zero-emissions vehicle market strategy while the state Motor Vehicles and Transportation departments would be directed to find near-term actions and investment strategies to improve environmentally friendly transportation, sustainable freight and transit options by Jan. 15, 2021.

“New York’s Climate Change Act outlines nation leading climate targets,” Harkham wrote in his legislative justification. “To reach the goal of 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 we need to aggressively pursue bench marks that will reduce emissions from our personal vehicles. Personal transportation accounts for roughly 20% of American’s greenhouse gas emissions. By eliminating this as a source of emissions, we are one step closer to meeting our climate change goals.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation on Sept. 23 phasing out gasoline-powered vehicle sales by 2035, though it still allows gas-powered vehicles to be owned and sold on the used car market. In January 2018, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order setting targets of 200 hydrogen fueling stations and 250,000 electric vehicle chargers to support 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California roads by 2025.

“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Governor Newsom. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”

Following the order, the California Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035 a target which would achieve more than a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 80 percent improvement in oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide. In addition, the Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero emission by 2045 where feasible, with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage trucks. To ensure needed infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles, the order requires state agencies, in partnership with the private sector, to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options. It also requires support of new and used zero-emission vehicle markets to provide broad accessibility to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians. The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the used car market.

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