Santa Rosa environmental group backs state bill to ban sale of gas-powered cars by 2040

A Santa Rosa environmental group supports a proposed ban on gas-powered cars, and is pushing for a measure that would take effect far sooner than currently envisioned.|

A ban on the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles in California could come as soon as 2040 under a new proposal from a San Francisco lawmaker with strong backing from a Santa Rosa environmental group, though their hope is the landmark measure would take effect far sooner.

The Center for Climate Protection, citing both public health and climate change goals, is holding a rally Thursday night to support legislation that would limit new vehicle registration after Jan. 1, 2040 to zero-emission vehicles.

Only vehicles running entirely on batteries or fuel cells - not including any type of hybrids that also consume gasoline - would meet the standard spelled out in the seven sentences of a bill by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.

“We believe it is a game-changer,” said Ann Hancock, executive director of the center, referring to the Clean Cars 2040 Act.

The first vote on Ting’s measure is tentatively set for April 16 before the Assembly Transportation Committee, she said.

“Be a part of this revolutionary moment,” the center said in announcing the rally from 6 p.m. to ?7:30 p.m. today at the Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave.

Hancock said in an interview the bill “may seem revolutionary” to a nation - and a state - devoted to the automobile culture, but is “not far-fetched compared with what’s going on in the rest of the world.”

In a letter to Ting last month endorsing the bill, Hancock noted that 15 nations, representing a population of 3.23 billion people, have made “soft commitments” to a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV)-only future or established national ZEV targets and incentives.

Major automakers around the world, including Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan, Volvo, BMW, Aston Martin and Jaguar, are increasing or committing exclusively to ZEV production in the near future.

Given that trend, along with the declining cost of lithium-ion batteries that some analysts say may make conventional cars obsolete by 2030, the 2040 deadline in Ting’s bill “appears to be behind the curve,” Hancock’s letter said.

Meanwhile, zero-?emission vehicle sales are a small but fast-growing segment of the California vehicle market. Sales of battery and fuel cell vehicles rose more than tenfold to 51,944 last year from 5,081 in 2011, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Nearly 186,000 battery and fuel cell vehicles were sold in California from 2011 to 2017, putting it far ahead of Georgia in second place with nearly 24,000, the alliance said.

Battery-powered vehicles had a 2.6 percent share of new vehicle purchases last year, double the rate of 1.3 percent in 2013, it said.

In January, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order setting a target of ?5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030, supplanting his previous goal of 1.5 million by 2025.

Brown also announced an eight-year $2.5 billion initiative to help bring 250,000 vehicle charging stations and 200 hydrogen fueling stations to California by 2025.

California, however, includes plug-in hybrids - which can use gasoline engines to recharge their batteries - as electric vehicles in the same category as battery-only vehicles.

The Golden State generated more than 440 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2015, with 39 percent of it from transportation, equal to the amount from the next two major sources, industry and electrical generation, according to the state Air Resources Control Board.

In Sonoma County, with no major industrial base, transportation accounted for 65 percent of emissions in 2014 and is expected to increase by about 39 percent during the period from 2010 to 2040, according to “Beyond Combustion,” a report released by the Center for Climate Protection last year.

In her letter to Ting, Hancock noted California has higher rates of asthma diagnosis for adults and children than the rest of the nation. Exhaust from diesel- and gas-powered vehicles increases cancer risk and causes 1,400 cardiopulmonary deaths a year, according to state air board reports.

Requiring new cars to be zero emission in 2040 “implies that a significant portion of the vehicle fleet will still run on gas and diesel,” her letter said, urging Ting to consider “a deadline nearer in time if evidence warrants it.”

If Ting’s bill is not approved this year, it will be brought back next year, Hancock said in an interview.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or On Twitter ?@guykovner.

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