Following governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order that will lead to a California engine ban for vehicles starting in 2035, we all knew that there was going to be some political backlash. Well, according to a letter obtained by the team at Reuters, the current EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has raised some questions about the legality of this decision, as well as whether or not the move can be practically applied.
According to the report from Reuters, Wheeler has serious questions about the California engine ban – which perceived as a big win for the green movement – especially when looking at the state’s electrical power grid. The EPA Administrator also suggested that California may need federal approval in order to enact such a sweeping change, saying that the state may need to request a waiver from the EPA. Furthermore, Wheeler cited California’s continued issue with rolling blackouts as evidence that the state is not prepared for such a large-scale transition to electric vehicles.
“California’s record of rolling blackouts – unprecedented in size and scope – coupled with recent requests to neighboring states for power begs the question of how you expect to run an electric car fleet that will come with significant increases in electricity demand, when you can’t even keep the lights on today,” said Wheeler in the letter obtained by Rueters.
It is important to note that Wheeler’s current stint with the EPA came after an illustrious few years as a lawyer for the Faegre Baker Daniels law firm. Wheeler represented famed climate change denier and mining industry magnate Robert E. Murray, and helped to lobby against Obama Administration efforts to implement tighter emissions regulations. The lobbying efforts were unsuccessful, and Murray Energy filed for bankruptcy back in October of 2019.
When California lawmakers attempted to set a timeline for zero-emission vehicles and increase emissions regulations back in 2019, Wheeler’s EPA stepped in to remove the state’s authority over such an issue. This resulted in 22 other states joining California in suing the EPA for infringing on their constitutionally granted power. The two entities are still engaged in a court challenge. It is very likely that a similar lawsuit will come from this latest green initiative by the Nation’s most populous state.