The California Air Resources Board’s rules phasing out in-state sales of new gas powered cars and pick up trucks by 2035 is being challenged in federal court on equity grounds.
The complaint filed Nov. 14 in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of California claims the prohibition will unduly harm low-income residents and communities of color because of the steep cost of electric vehicles. In addition, the majority of community members have long distance commutes, the vehicles have limited mileage per charge and EVs will only minimally reduce greenhouse gases in their neighborhoods, it adds.
Air Board Spokesperson Dave Clegern rejected the claims made by the non profit civil rights organization, The Two Hundred for Homeownership. “The Advanced Clean Car II regulations were properly adopted and we look forward to successfully defending the matter in court while leading California to a clean air future,” he said.
The regulations, approved Aug. 25, were developed in response to a directive by Gov. Gavin Newsom issued two years ago.
The Air Board’s regulations require that 35% of new car sales be zero emissions by 2026, rising to 68% in 2030 and 100% five years later. The rules do not apply to sales of used gas-fueled vehicles or new or used ones bought out of state.
Prohibiting less costly gas powered car sales “exceeds CARB’s legal authority, and its own moral commitment to ending racial injustice,” alleges the suit.
The complaint points to not just the high cost of EVs, about $50,000, but also the batteries’ limited lifetime and high replacement costs of more than $15,000, which it calls “another unaffordable cost.”
CARB’s rules, according to the suit, violate struggling community members’ due process and equal protection, including the right to travel, under the federal and state Constitutions.
The organization states it is not anti EV, and does recognize “the importance of climate change.” But, it insists on a fair and economically feasible reduction in climate pollution from vehicles.
This is not the first time that this Berkeley-based civil rights group has sued the Air Resources Board. In September 2018, it filed a lawsuit against the agency over its 2017 plan to reduce climate pollution, which placed limits on new housing construction.
The Board’s scoping plan will “guarantee that housing, transportation and electricity prices will continue to rise, while ‘gateway’ jobs to the middle class for those without college degrees, such as manufacturing and logistics, will continue to locate in other states,” it claimed. The four-year old lawsuit has been tangled up in legal motions, with the first hearing on the merits of the case set for Dec. 23, according to Robert Apodaca, the civil right’s organizations’s vice chair. However, CARB’s 2017 scoping plan expires at the end of the year and will be replaced by a new scoping plan expected to be approved by the board mid-December. That will make the suit moot.