Monday, 18 November 2019 23:07

California Says It Won’t Buy Cars From GM, Toyota, Others Opposing Tough Tailpipe Standards

Written by Rachel Becker, CalMatters
Morning commuters head toward Oakland, CA, on July 22, 2019. State officials are working to reduce tailpipe emissions. Morning commuters head toward Oakland, CA, on July 22, 2019. State officials are working to reduce tailpipe emissions. Anne Wernikoff/CalMatters


Starting immediately, California state agencies will no longer buy gas-powered sedans, officials said on Friday, Nov. 15.

And starting in January, the state will stop purchasing vehicles from carmakers that haven’t agreed to follow California’s clean car rules.


The decision affects General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and multiple other automakers that sided with the Trump administration in the ongoing battle over tailpipe pollution rules. The policy will hit General Motors particularly hard; California spent more than $27 million on passenger vehicles from GM-owned Chevrolet in 2018.


California’s Department of General Services, the state’s business manager that oversees vehicle purchases for California’s fleet, announced the bans on Friday afternoon. The immediate ban on state purchases of cars powered only by gas will include exceptions for public safety vehicles.


“The state is finally making the smart move away from internal combustion engine sedans,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement emailed to CalMatters. The new policies align with Newsom’s September executive order urging the state government to reduce greenhouse gases. “Carmakers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of California’s buying power,” Newsom said.


It’s the latest volley in the fight over climate-changing pollution from cars and trucks. “It certainly sends a strong message to the automakers that have come out on the other side of California in this litigation,” said Julia Stein, supervising attorney at UCLA’s Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic. “It’s taking steps to encourage automakers to be on what it views as the right side of that dispute.”


The Trump administration has long proposed rolling back Obama-era standards curbing greenhouse gases and increasing fuel economy of passenger vehicles. Those rollbacks have yet to be finalized, but in September, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stripped California’s authority to make its own greenhouse gas rules — rules that 13 other states and the District of Columbia follow.


The move kicked off what’s likely to become a lengthy court battle — and, indeed, California and 22 states sued the EPA today, after suing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in September.

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