PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Policymakers for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality on Monday approved a rule that prohibits the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger vehicles in Oregon by 2035. The Republican leader in the Oregon House, who represents part of Central Oregon, calls the move “out of touch.”
The effort comes as Oregon plans to cut climate-warming emissions by 50% by 2035 and by 90% by 2050, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. The transportation sector accounts for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon.
The rule is based on vehicle emission standards California adopted in August. The standards require car manufacturers to sell a certain percentage of zero-emission vehicles — electric cars, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — as part of their total sales, starting with 35% in 2026 and increasing to 100% by 2035.
The rule allows for hybrid vehicle sales, which run primarily on electricity but can run on gas. The rule does not affect cars already on the road and used gas-powered cars will continue to be available for sale within the state.
The new rule also requires manufacturers to increase access to affordable zero-emission vehicles to low-income households and communities of color. It offers incentives to manufacturers to sell electric cars to community car share programs, to produce lower-cost zero-emission cars and to direct used electric cars to dealerships participating in low-income assistance programs.
The new requirements will help Oregon meet its goals, adopted by the Legislature in 2019, of at least 90% of new vehicles sold annually to be zero emission by 2035. Those goals came without consequences, while the newly adopted rule includes penalties to manufacturers for non-compliance.
“By creating a regulatory certainty for manufacturers, EV charging providers and utilities, it sets a clear path forward for the future of zero-emission passenger cars and trucks in Oregon,” said Rachel Sakata, senior air quality planner at the Department of Environmental Quality.
On Tuesday, Oregon House Republican Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson of Prineville criticized the move.
“This is the latest out of touch example of what our state agencies and commissions have become,” said Breese-Iverson in a statement. “Once again, as Governor Brown’s days in office are winding down, she is working to solidify her progressive legacy without being held accountable. While this decision will disproportionately hurt working-class Oregonians, it also ignores the unrealistic and short-sighted goals of the battery powered manufacturing industry.”
In 2020, Governor Brown signed Executive Order 20-04 which directed state agencies to drastically reduce emissions by 2035. In 2021, Governor Brown set the most unrealistic timeline for moving to unreliable electricity sources in the United States – driving up costs for low- and middle-class families.
The Environmental Quality Commission received over 700 comments on the rule with 500 in support, Sakata said.
Oregonians who spoke out against the rule during the public comment period cited the expense of electric cars and lack of charging stations.
Environmental Quality Commissioner Greg Addington, who voted against the rule adoption, acknowledged many Oregonians, especially in rural areas, do not support the rule and do not have access to electric vehicle charging.
“There are a lot of people in the state who don’t get where this is going,” Addington said.
Sakata said the new standard will expand the market for new and used zero emission vehicles and bring down prices. She also said the upfront costs are offset by decreased operations and maintenance costs.
Oregon has over 2,000 public and private electric vehicle chargers across the state, with more being built.
Central Oregon Daily News contributed to this report.