Is Virginia’s Push to Eliminate Gas Cars a Sign of North Carolina’s Future? | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of The James G. Martin Center. The author of this post is Brittany Raymer.

    Virginia has tied its future to California, and plans to stop selling gas vehicles by 2035, despite objections from Republicans and Gov. Glenn Youngkin. May North Carolina follow a similar fate?

    In 2021, then Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed the Clean Cars bill, which essentially ties Virginia's carbon emissions policies to that of California. In essence, they will now be mimicking the policies of a state that's 2,600 miles away. This includes California's tailpipe emissions standards and requiring car dealerships to only sell new electric cars by 2035. If you want a gas vehicle, you'll have to cross state lines.

    The problem is that it's unclear if Virginia's electrical grid can handle the additional strain of potentially millions of cars charging every day.

    Republicans, with the support of now Gov. Youngkin, tried to block the bill and return the power over its energy policy back to the people of Virginia. The Democrats in control of the Senate disagreed.

    "As the governor stated, Democrats in Virginia outsourced the decision-making on energy policy to unelected bureaucrats in California," said Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Gov. Youngkin.

    It appears that those ecowarriors in the Virginia Senate are more interested in virtue signally their climate credentials to California, a state that has sprawling homeless camps and a rampant crime problem, than trying to develop their own policies.

    Though North Carolina hasn't tied its energy future to California, Gov. Roy Cooper has signed an executive order mandating that electric vehicles make up at least 50% of the market by 2030.

    That's a tall order, considering that there are roughly 8.2 million registered vehicles in North Carolina, with only 25,190 being electric (June 2022).

    He also signed a similar "Memorandum of Understand" with California to promote zero-emissions trucks and buses and hoping to adopt other measures as well.

    So where are all of these electric cars going to come from? Does North Carolina have a grid strong enough to support an influx of electric vehicles? What will we do with all of the gas power vehicles?

    There were already rolling blackouts on Christmas, it's doubtful that within the next seven years the power industry will be able to fuel potentially over a million cars every day. Even with potentially hundreds of wind turbines off the coast of Wilmington and thousands of solar panels, it's unlikely that the system can support such a load. If it can, perhaps the Tar Heel State will deal with frustratingly unnecessarily daily blackouts and inconsistent power outages more akin to a developing country than one that houses the headquarters of Apple's artificial intelligence projects.

    Limiting carbon emissions isn't necessarily a terrible thing, but sometimes it seems like supporters are so invested in the end goal they're willing to force the country, or in this case the state, into the dark ages to see their ideals come to fruition.

    Nuclear energy is one way that the state can help meet some of its electrical needs, while eliminating carbon emissions, but it's unclear if North Carolina will fully invest in that option.
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