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Washington state to follow California and ban the sale of new gasoline cars

A policy approved Thursday in California would ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars starting in 2035.

SEATTLE — The transition from gas to electric is picking up speed. California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars starting in 2035 and Washington state officials said it will also adopt the rules.

Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted Wednesday, "We're ready to adopt California's regs by end of this year."

"This is a critical milestone in our climate fight. Washington set in law a goal for all new car sales to be zero emissions by 2030 and we’re ready," said Inslee.

California's plans would require all new cars, trucks and SUVs to run on electricity or hydrogen. No new gas-powered vehicles could be sold after 2035. The policy was approved Thursday by regulators. The policy still needs federal approval, though it is likely to happen under President Joe Biden's administration.

“Whenever they put out a new rule we have a direction to follow that, “ said Washington Department of Ecology Climate Policy Section Manager Joel Creswell. “States can either set their own limits that match the federal rules or they can match California’s rules.

Washington state said in 2019 the state would adopt California's zero-emission vehicle rules in accordance with the federal Clear Air Act.

Creswell works to craft those rules and make sure Washington state's on track to hit them. The state recently hit a milestone with 100,000 electric vehicles on the road.

“A big part of the reason why those are here is because California was a leader and said, ‘OK, automakers. It's time to sell more and more electric cars in California,’ and nobody wants to miss out on a California market.”

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Transportation makes up nearly half of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions.

What's to come is an engineering challenge, building out charging stations and infrastructure. Creswell said money from the federal infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act will help.

"The whole network we have to deliver fuel that gets into our cars is a completely different system, but once we get that system built, the real advantage of electric cars other than they're good for the environment is that they're cheaper to operate," said Creswell.

Which is one reason why Creswell is confident electric cars won't be out of reach when it comes to affordability.

Creswell also said he expects the cost will come down as supply goes up.

"We see those costs continue to come way down in the future, especially as the number of models goes up. We have more used cars available and yeah, we think electric cars will actually become the more affordable options," said Creswell.                 

The state will be taking public comment on the new rule, which will open on Sept. 7.

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