Democrats in the Virginia state Senate voted to kill a Republican bill that would have repealed a 2021 law that tethers the state’s air standards to those set in California and, therefore, adopts a 2035 electric vehicle (EV) mandate.
In a party-line 8-6 vote Tuesday, the Virginia state Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee voted against the Republican-sponsored Senate Bill 3. [emphasis, links added]
The vote came during a public hearing in which both Republican lawmakers and private residents voiced their support for the bill and opposition to the state’s California-inspired EV mandate regulations.
“I know people are passionate about this, I know people want clean air and clean water, as do I,” GOP state Sen. Richard Stuart, a lead sponsor of Senate Bill 3, said during the hearing.
“But sometimes we have to deal with the reality of the situation that we’re in and the reality of the situation that we’re in is we simply cannot mandate Virginians to buy an electric vehicle. The goal is absolutely impossible.”
“I call the bill – it’s a bill to un-California Virginia,” added fellow Republican state Sen. John McGuire. “I think most Virginians would agree that we should set our own policy. Legislators in California, we did not elect, and we did not vote for this policy in Virginia. And I think that sets a dangerous precedent in many areas. The electric car vehicle program is just not working.”
Supporters of the legislation, including Stuart and McGuire, expressed concern that the state doesn’t have sufficient charging infrastructure for EVs, that EVs are far more expensive than gas-powered alternatives, that EV manufacturing is heavily reliant on Chinese supply chains, and that the U.S. EV sector is heavily reliant on raw material supplies sourced from foreign nations.
During the hearing Tuesday, both supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 3 each had a total of five minutes to speak, leaving several residents without the ability to voice concerns about the EV mandate.
After Committee Chairman state Sen. Dave Marsden, a Democrat who later acknowledged there are problems with the EV mandate, asked supporters of the legislation to stand up, the vast majority of attendees rose.
“I feel like we have conceded our sovereignty to California,” said Chris Holmes, a Virginia resident. “We need to repeal this bill, bring back our own rule of law, represent those who you represent with your laws. Do not allow California representatives to enforce laws in Virginia.”
“I think electric vehicles are great – I drive one. But I think now is the wrong time to force consumers to buy EVs. I don’t believe the government should be telling us what we can or can’t be buying,” added fellow resident Duke Truong, noting his high electricity bills and the cost of replacing parts on his EV.
Opponents of the Republican bill mainly included clean energy advocacy and environmental organizations like the Sierra Club and Southern Environmental Law Center.
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