Valadao bill would stop clock on Newsom's transition to zero-emission vehicle sales – The Bakersfield Californian

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Clear skies. Low 43F. Winds light and variable..
Clear skies. Low 43F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: October 28, 2023 @ 11:27 pm
Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, speaks in February at the World Ag Expo in Tulare.
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during the fireside chat Monday at the Hong Kong University in Hong Kong. The governor said California will always be a partner on climate issues no matter how the U.S. presidential election next year turns out during his week-long trip to China.

Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, speaks in February at the World Ag Expo in Tulare.
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during the fireside chat Monday at the Hong Kong University in Hong Kong. The governor said California will always be a partner on climate issues no matter how the U.S. presidential election next year turns out during his week-long trip to China.
Rep. David Valadao hopes to wield Republicans’ majority in the U.S. House of Representatives against Gov. Gavin Newsom in the battle for Kern County’s oil industry.
The Hanford Republican called out Newsom in a news release Friday about a bill he is introducing with eight other GOP House members to stop state and local governments from interrupting the delivery of energy based on its power source, such as petroleum versus renewables.
However unlikely with a climate-forward Democrat holding veto power in the White House, enacting the bill would negate Newsom’s initiative three years ago to ban the sale of new internal-combustion vehicles in the state by 2035. The plan was adopted last year by the California Air Resources Board.
Newsom has put “the interests of extreme environmentalists over hardworking Californians,” stated Valadao, who represents California’s 22nd Congressional District including parts of oil-rich Kern County.
“California has been ground zero for misguided mandates that penalize traditional energy sources — driving up costs for working families and further stressing our state’s already unreliable power grid,” Valadao said in the release about the Energy Choice Act.
The legislation pushes a Republican preference for “all of the above” energy policies for the sake of reliability and economics — as opposed to a movement among blue states to address climate change and pollution by phasing out petroleum in transportation and homes.
Local elected and appointed officials howled when in September 2020 Newsom proposed that all new vehicles sold in the state be zero-emission within 15 years. Besides costing local jobs, they said, cutting demand would choke off a big source of the county’s property tax revenue.
Criticism of the policy has been somewhat muted among Kern’s larger oil producers. But on Friday, independent oilman Chad Hathaway, president and CEO of Bakersfield’s Hathaway LLC, applauded Valadao, saying by email energy goals are important but that mandates are dangerous because of how long it takes to develop new sources of power.
“This isn’t the tech world,” he wrote, “that evolves rapidly year over year. If your iPhone doesn’t get faster people don’t starve, go broke, freeze to death or die of heat.”
The Western States Petroleum Association trade group hasn’t taken a position on the Energy Choice Act, but it said by email it agrees bans and mandates “only force families into costly choices about how they use energy and live their lives.”
The California New Car Dealers Association avoids taking positions on federal legislation but supports California’s 2035 deadline. President Brian Maas noted in an email several administrations have allowed CARB to enact air quality standards other states have also adopted.
“California’s new car dealers are all-in for supporting the smart and feasible transition to electrification of the vehicle fleet,” he wrote.
When Newsom called for the new sales deadline, he also asked the Legislature to ban the controversial oil field technique known as fracking and for state agencies to speed the closure and remediation of idle oil wells, expedite repurposing of production and refining facilities, and create a buffer between industry activity and neighboring residents.
The governor has achieved mixed success on those priorities. He worked with lawmakers to impose buffer zones only to see the industry intervene with a voter referendum, for example, and he imposed an administration fracking moratorium in lieu of action by the Legislature.
Newsom also pledged help for communities like Kern that would be impacted by his call for phasing out internal-combustion engines. The centerpiece of that effort, a grant program that could mean tens of millions of dollars in workforce and economic development money for the county, has not yet decided on Kern’s application, which competes with others from around the state.
Since CARB approved the 2035 deadline, nine other states have committed to the same timeline for selling only zero-emission new vehicles starting in just over 11 years.
According to Friday’s release, the Energy Choice Act would “prohibit states or localities from prohibiting an energy service’s connection, reconnection, modification, installation or expansion based on the type of energy source being delivered.”
New York Rep. Nick Langworthy, joining Valadao in introducing the bill, said in the release that efforts by the state’s governor and other Democrats in Albany to ban natural gas in buildings would raise costs on families and compromise energy security.
Added fellow New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who’s also backing the bill: “To achieve energy independence we need energy diversification, but not to the exclusion of traditional energy sources.”
Asked about the bill Friday, CARB Executive Officer Steven Cliff said in a statement California’s path toward zero-emission transportation “makes the state an economic leader while improving public health and addressing pressing climate and air quality challenges.”
The market is already moving in the right direction as sales of zero-emission vehicles outpace state mandates, he stated, adding, “The climate emergency requires urgency and innovation, and California is moving necessary solutions forward.”
Kern County officials pilloried Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order Wednesday accelerating California’s transition away from oil and gas produ…
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