PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon regulators approved a rule banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2035 on Monday afternoon.
The Environmental Quality Commission, the rulemaking body of the Department of Environmental Quality, passed the new rule in a 4-1 vote.
Earlier this year, California announced a statewide ban on new gas-powered cars by 2035. It's the only U.S. state that's allowed to make its own vehicle emissions rules, and it's also the most populous.
Under the Clean Air Act, other states can either adopt federal standards or follow California’s stricter rules. In this case, Oregon opted to follow our neighbor to the south.
In their meeting Monday, commissioners stressed that the rule does not ban the sale of any used vehicles, including those that run on gas, and even with the uptick in electric vehicle sales, they estimated that at least 65% of vehicles on the road in 2035 will still be powered by internal combustion engines.
One of the commissioners who voted to adopt the rule, Amy Schlusser, said that electric vehicles will soon make up the majority of cars on the road and implementing the rule would give utilities and auto manufacturers more certainty about where Oregon stands.
“I think this rule is really important for Oregon,” she said. “If we don't adopt this rule, the transportation system will still electrify, we just won’t have the same number of options here.”
Greg Addington was the sole commissioner to vote no on the rule, saying that some residents in rural parts of the state, who often have to drive longer distances, will face bigger barriers transitioning to electric vehicles.
“I’m not opposed to the direction this is going, but I do have some things I can’t get over,” he said.
Addington noted concerns he’s heard from rural Oregonians about gaps in charging infrastructure in less populated parts of the state, the environmental impact of mining for materials necessary for electric vehicles batteries and the availability of electric trucks.
“There are unanswered questions out there and still a lot of concerns,” he said.
Commissioners noted that the state is expected to see large investments in electric vehicle charging stations through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, both of which passed earlier this year.
Most importantly, the commissioners said, the rule would help cut Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions and cut down on air pollution, which disproportionately impacts the state's low-income and minority communities.
Editor's note: The video in the media player above originally aired on Sept. 20, 2022.