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12 US governors ask Biden for all new vehicle sales to be 100% zero-emission by 2045

Twelve US governors today issued a letter asking President Joe Biden to put the US on a path to 100% new zero-emission vehicle (ZEVs) sales.

Specifically, they asked that all new cars and light-duty trucks are ZEVs by 2035 and new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are ZEVs by 2045.

The bigger picture

These 12 governors are calling for a nationwide plan for ZEVs ahead of Biden’s virtual climate summit tomorrow and Friday. Forty heads of state will attend that summit, including President Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, and China’s President Xi Jinping.

This governors’ letter is part of a wider global push this week to establish priorities ahead of that summit. The US is expected to formally announce that it will aim to cut emissions in half by 2030. Further, the EU agreed to a provisional deal last night that aims to slash its emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels by 2030, and the UK is targeting a 78% cut by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.

Transition to ZEVs

Transport is the largest source of emissions in the US, so the governors’ letter is on the right track. (And frankly, there ought to be more signatures on there.)

Individual states have already implemented bold initiatives. As my colleague Jameson Dow wrote on April 15:

Washington State [became] the first US state to pass a gas car ban legislatively (as opposed to by executive order), and now has the earliest gas car ban in the US. California and Massachusetts also plan gas car bans by 2035.

These would not need to be battery electric vehicles, they can be any electrically powered vehicle. Thus, fuel cell vehicles, which are powered by an electric motor connected to a fuel cell rather than a battery, would qualify as well.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee is one of the signatories of the letter, which outlines the steps each signatory’s state is taking to transition to ZEVs.

For example:

Oregon has a goal for at least 90% of new motor vehicles sold annually to be zero-emission by 2035, a goal Oregon would like to expand to 100% with the help of supportive federal policy.

The 12 bipartisan governors (OK, one Republican, 11 Democrats) who signed the letter asking for a comprehensive federal initiative to transition to ZEVs are:

  • Gavin Newsom (D – California)
  • Ned Lamont (D – Connecticut)
  • David Ige (D – Hawaii)
  • Janet Mills (D – Maine)
  • Charlie Baker (R – Massachusetts)
  • Phillip D. Murphy (D – New Jersey)
  • Michelle Lujan Grisham (D – New Mexico)
  • Andrew Cuomo (D – New York)
  • Roy Cooper (D – North Carolina)
  • Kate Brown (D- Oregon)
  • Dan McKee (D – Rhode Island)
  • Jay Inslee (D – Washington)

The letter also contains other requests to reduce transport emissions, such as “restoring strong scientifically based greenhouse gas emission standards for all vehicle model years possible to replace the unsupported standards from the previous administration.”

You can read the letter in full here. It’s becoming increasingly clear that gas-powered cars’ days are numbered. (And yes, we think the target should be earlier, too.)

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.