The Bulletin

Virginia auto dealers say they will support new vehicle emissions standards

By: - January 25, 2021 7:33 pm

The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association will support proposed legislation in the General Assembly that would adopt vehicle emissions standards set by California no earlier than 2023 and no later than 2025. 

“After numerous discussions with legislators and various impacted parties, it is clear this legislation can proceed as we are comfortable with the understanding and commitment shown by legislators to address other major components of this issue,” wrote Don Hall, president and CEO of the association, in a memo to lawmakers and lobbyists sent Monday evening. 

After passing sweeping legislation last year to decarbonize the state’s power grid by 2045, Virginia Democrats this session are seeking to reduce transportation emissions, which are responsible for almost half of the state’s overall carbon production. 

Their top-line proposal in this effort is House Bill 1965 from Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Henrico, which would take advantage of a provision in the federal Clean Air Act allowing states to adopt California’s emissions standards, which have long been more stringent than those imposed by the federal government. 

Bagby’s bill would adopt both California’s low-emission vehicle standards and its zero-emission vehicle standards, the latter a requirement that a certain percentage of all cars sold by manufacturers in Virginia be electric. 

The Virginia Auto Dealers Association opposed a similar measure in 2020 and this year initially asked lawmakers to delay action on zero-emission vehicle standards until 2022 so that a “comprehensive plan to decrease vehicle emissions” could be crafted. 

Monday night’s policy memo, however, pivoted away from that stance. In it Hall pointed to two other transportation electrification laws before the Democrat-controlled General Assembly — House Bill 2282 and Senate Bill 1223 —  as being “consistent with our stated position that the issue of EV adoption should be considered comprehensively.” 

“VADA and its dealer members are fully supportive of efforts to increase (electric vehicle) sales, and we must move forward in a smart and effective manner to set up Virginia for success,” Hall concluded. “Support of HB 1965 is but one step, and we are comfortable taking that step at this time.” 

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Sarah Vogelsong
Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah is Editor-in-Chief of the Mercury and previously its environment and energy reporter. She has worked for multiple Virginia and regional publications, including Chesapeake Bay Journal, The Progress-Index and The Caroline Progress. Her reporting has won awards from groups such as the Society of Environmental Journalists and Virginia Press Association, and she is an alumna of the Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative and Metcalf Institute Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists.