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EPA Administrator says American public "isn't ready" for California's ban on new gas cars

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler spoke with Yahoo Finance's Alexis Christoforous in a special conversation for Concordia's 2020 Virtual Annual Summit entitled "From Wildfires to Pipelines," focusing on the state of environmental affairs in the United States. He comments on the new California mandate which calls for no new gas vehicles by 2035.

Video Transcript

ANDREW WHEELER: I don't think the public is ready for that at this point. You know, under the Obama-Biden cafe standards during their administration, they set their standards that would have called for 50% EVs by 2025. And the data we were looking at over the last couple of years, when we wrote our regulation, our cafe standards show that the American public is just not embracing the electric vehicles to that extent. I don't know how they get there by 2035.

There's a lot of questions. I think it's more aspirational at this point and probably more political, probably as a reaction to try to turn the attention from their mismanagement of the forest fires in California. Electric vehicles are great and it's good to see more of them, but I just don't think that even the state of California can get to 100% by 2035.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: So if not this mandate, how else can a state like California reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Because Governor Newsom says that this order would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35%.

ANDREW WHEELER: Well, you know, there's a lot of things that states can do. But you know, to address climate change, it has to be done globally. And we aren't opposed to doing something on the global side. The Paris Climate Accord, which President Trump rightfully pulled out of, would have disadvantaged the United States at the expense of our trading partners, such as China. So a solution has to be global. One state can't make that big of a difference. [? The ?] [? United ?] States by themselves, I mean, we've reduced our CO2 emissions 12% since 2005. We continue to reduce our CO2 emissions. And under President Trump's leadership, we've done four regulations to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

But as far as the automotive side, I really think the American public should have the opportunity to pick what type of automobiles they buy and what type of automobiles they drive. I don't think any level of government, whether it be the state or the federal government should dictate a particular technology to the public. There's a lot of education out there. People are free to buy electric vehicles if they want. Free to buy an internal combustion engine vehicle if they want to. I mean, we're making those more energy efficient all the time, and those will become more and more energy efficient in the coming years.

So I think it's more on the education side. I don't think the government should be dictating what people should buy when they don't want to.