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House Passes Bill To Protect Gas-Powered Cars Amid California’s Electric Vehicle Push

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that protects cars with internal combustion engines amid new regulations from California that would limit them.

The Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act, introduced by Republican Rep. John Joyce of Pennsylvania, would prevent states from adopting emissions standards for new vehicles that restrict the sale of gas-powered cars, as some states, like California, have proposed to do. It passed the House by a vote of 222 yeas to 190 nays, Joyce tweeted.

“California regulators shouldn’t have the power to determine what vehicles are sold to families in Pennsylvania,” Joyce wrote in a statement issued before the vote. “One state should not be able to set national policy and Americans should not be forced into making purchases they are unable to afford.”

Joyce’s bill would amend the Clean Air Act, which lets the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waive states from national standards if they adopt their own emissions standards, a provision that was enacted expressly for California, according to the American Action Forum (AAF).

The Clean Air Act also allows states to adopt California’s stricter standards, resulting in 17 other states enacting them, according to the California Air Resources Board. A 2022 decision by the board to require 100% of all cars sold in the state to be zero-emissions vehicles by 2035 could spread to all those states, and could affect approximately 40% of all vehicles purchased in the United States, according to the AAF.

The bill passed by the House prevents the EPA from issuing a new waiver to enable California’s standards to take effect. It also bans the EPA from certifying California as compliant with an existing waiver.

“It’s about making sure people have the option of driving practical, functional, and affordable cars,” Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement before the vote. “And it’s about embracing the legacy of the American auto industry.”

Electric vehicles often cost more to purchase than gas-powered vehicles, according to CNBC, even as the Inflation Reduction Act offers a $7,500 tax credit for new electric vehicle purchases. They also have a limited range due to the limited availability of charging stations outside of metropolitan areas.

“The [Biden] Administration strongly opposes passage of H.R. 1435,” the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) wrote in a Tuesday statement. “Congress protected [California’s] authority to address its unique and ongoing air quality challenges and to give other states the option to adopt the innovative clean car and truck technologies California pioneered.”

Joyce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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