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'We're not going to reverse this policy' | Youngkin administration faces pushback from Virginia lawmakers determined to keep vehicle emissions law

Gov. Glenn Youngkin wants to reverse a law that follows strict emissions standards in California.

FAIRFAX, Va. — Democrats in Virginia are sending a strong message to Gov. Glenn Youngkin who wants to reverse a law that follows strict emissions standards in California.

Virginia is set to adopt new regulations recently passed by the California Air Resources Board that would phase out new gas-powered vehicle sales by 2035 to achieve zero emissions, creating a new path for more electrical vehicles. 

The change does not apply to people who already drive gas-powered or used vehicles

"We're not going to reverse this policy," State Sen. Barbara Favola, (D) Virginia District 31, told WUSA9. "Don't even try."

Under a Democratic General Assembly, Favola was one of 21 Virginia senators who approved legislation and signed by then-Gov. Ralph Northam in 2021 to follow California's emission standards.

Favola said the intent was to help fight climate change. 

"We have to move forward," she said. "We have to think about the future. We have to think about a cleaner environment. We have to think about the children. That's what we're focusing on." 

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares joins Youngkin in blasting state leaders for passing the legislation. 

In a statement, Youngkin said, "California's out of touch laws have no place in our Commonwealth." 

He called it a "ridiculous edict."

"It goes down to consumer choice," Miyares said. "It goes down the fact that you are forcing working class Virginians to subsidize cars for the wealthy. If consumers want to buy EVs, great, I think they're great. I think they look fabulous but let consumers make that decision."

State Republicans tried to repeal the law, which was supported by the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, but failed in the last session. 

"That is the law and that's the way it stands unless the General Assembly decides to change it," Miyares added.

Out of the 8.4 million registered vehicles in the commonwealth, the number of electrical vehicles is just under 40,000 making up to less than 0.5%.

Favola said anyone who purchases an electrical vehicle under certain conditions up until January 2027 can receive a rebate.

"If you've already purchased a vehicle, then you're driving that vehicle until you decide to get a new one, I'd expect they'll probably replace their vehicle before 2035," Favola said. 

Maryland is among other states who have adopted a similar policy to mirror emissions regulations in California. 

RELATED: Youngkin admin seeks to withdraw Virginia from RGGI without new legislation

RELATED: Virginia may follow California's 2035 ban on new gas vehicles due to state law

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