In the News

ALEC Policy Champions: Governor Glenn Youngkin, Secretary Travis Voyles, Senator Richard Stuart, Senator Ryan McDougle, and Delegate Tony Wilt Remove Virginia from California EV Mandate

In a significant victory for Virginia’s autonomy and the interests of its citizens, Governor Glenn Youngkin, Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Travis Voyles, Senator Richard Stuart, Senator Ryan McDougle, and Delegate Tony Wilt have successfully led the effort to remove Virginia from California’s stringent vehicle emissions mandate.

In 2021, Virginia’s legislature passed a law that tied the state’s vehicle emissions standards to those set by California’s Air Resource Board (CARB). This decision effectively ceded Virginia’s decision-making authority to an unelected body of bureaucrats in California, led by Governor Gavin Newsom. The consequences of this voluntary abdication of sovereignty became starkly evident when CARB voted to phase out gas-powered vehicles by 2035, a mandate that would have applied to Virginia as well.

Governor Glenn Youngkin has been a vocal critic of this legislative decision. “I think this is just an absurd moment where legislators who were elected by Virginians, a governor who was elected by Virginians, put in a law that abdicates their responsibility to make these decisions for Virginians,” he remarked in an interview. His leadership has been instrumental in pushing back against this overreach.

Secretary Travis Voyles, along with Senators Richard Stuart and Ryan McDougle, and Delegate Tony Wilt, played pivotal roles in crafting and advocating for legislation to restore Virginia’s control over its vehicle emissions standards. Their diligence ensured that Virginia could set policies that are tailored to its unique needs rather than conforming to California’s distinct environmental challenges.

Historically, California enforced higher emissions standards due to its specific geographical and atmospheric conditions that exacerbate air pollution. Virginia, however, does not share these conditions. Furthermore, the market dynamics differ significantly; less than 2% of vehicles sold in Virginia last year were electric, compared to 16% in California. This discrepancy highlighted the impracticality of applying California’s standards to Virginia.

The principle of federalism underscores the importance of local solutions to local problems. By reasserting Virginia’s sovereignty, Governor Youngkin and his team have reaffirmed this principle, ensuring that Virginia’s policies are made by Virginians for Virginians. This move protects the state’s economy and respects the preferences and needs of its residents.

The challenges faced by California, such as grid operators requesting residents to reduce energy consumption (including charging electric vehicles) due to the threat of rolling blackouts, further underscore the pitfalls of blindly adopting another state’s policies without considering local conditions and capabilities.

Governor Youngkin’s stance was clear: “California, who has shown themselves inept in managing their own state, why in the world would we import their laws into Virginia?” This sentiment resonated with many Virginians and lawmakers who saw the necessity of maintaining the Commonwealth’s independence.

We are proud of the efforts of Governor Glenn Youngkin, Secretary Travis Voyles, Senator Richard Stuart, Senator Ryan McDougle, and Delegate Tony Wilt, and are thrilled to award them the title of ALEC Policy Champions. Each of them has led in the crucial struggle to protect Virginia’s autonomy and to ensure that its policies reflect the state’s unique needs and priorities.

The leadership shown by these Policy Champions has set a precedent for other states to follow.