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California Threatens Gasoline Car Ban

California might ban gasoline-powered cars if the federal government goes ahead with a plan to relax emission and fuel economy standards, Bloomberg reports, citing the chair of the California Air Resources Board.

“CARB will be exploring ways to ensure communities get the reductions of air pollution they so desperately need to keep the air clean and breathable -- and continue to fight climate change,” Mary Nichols said. “That might mean, for example, tougher requirements for low-carbon fuels, looking at tighter health-protective regulations on California refineries, doubling down on our enforcement efforts on mobile and stationary sources -- and might lead to an outright ban on internal combustion engines.”

The fight over fuel economy standards has been going on since the Trump administration said it planned to freeze the standard at 2020 levels and is part of a wider confrontation between the state and the federal administration that has since Trump’s inauguration seen California file as many as 49 lawsuits against the federal government. Of these, almost half, or 24, are against policies by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Related: The IEA's Dire Warning For Energy Markets

The situation is a little ironic for California. It is the state with the strictest emission rules and also the state where most of the nation’s electric vehicles are sold. It is, however, at the same time the state with the most total car sales and its pollution levels are among the highest. In fact, the state is home to eight of the ten most polluted cities in the United States. And emissions from transport are on the rise.

Banning gasoline cars in the country’s largest car market does not sound like the most rational approach to tackling this rising pollution. It sounds more like a tit for tat approach to a conflict that has been unfolding since Donald Trump entered the White House. It seems, by the way, that California is getting as good as it is giving: the federal government earlier this week pulled out funding to the tune of US$929 million for the construction of a high-speed railway claiming California had failed to make any real progress on the project since the agreement for it was inked back in 2010.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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