Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced this week his administration would pursue the same vehicle efficiency standards in the Silver State as those that have been recently implemented in California.
The changes, if approved by the State Environmental Commission and Legislative Commission, would require auto manufacturers who sell cars in Nevada to offer a certain percentage of their inventory as electric vehicles (EVs) or plug-in hybrids beginning in 2024. They would also require greater fuel efficiency for gas-powered cars.
“Now more than ever, it is critical for Nevada to continue accelerating efforts to address climate change, including capturing the many benefits of sustainable transportation options for Nevadans,” Sisolak said in a press release Monday announcing the Clean Cars Nevada initiative.
Greg Lovato is an Administrator with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. In an interview with KNPR’s State of Nevada, he said the number of EVs that would be required hasn’t been decided yet.
“In other states that have adopted the Zero Emission Vehicle standard it has worked out to, by model year 2025, somewhere between five and ten percent” of cars offered for sale.
Lovato explained the new initiative would be a powerful tool for the state as it pursues a goal of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent by 2030.
“This is really a key step that Nevada needs to take if we’re going to start achieving our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals,” he said. A 2019 GHG inventory by the state found transportation was the largest source of emissions — contributing more than a third.
“Within that transportation sector, you’re looking at between 50 to 60 percent generated by these light duty vehicles,” Lovato said, referring to the passenger cars and light trucks that would be subject to the new rules. “If we’re going to start meeting our climate mitigation goals, we’re going to need to address this sector.”
The Natural Resource Defense Council’s Nevada Policy Director, Patricia Valderrama, supports the initiative. Nevada would be joining 14 other states that have adopted California’s standards, where she says they’ve already had an impact.
“They have seen an increase in the availability of electric and hybrid cars,” Valderrama said about the states that have already put the regulations in place. “It will work to make those kinds of cars more widely available in Nevada.”
She also believes consumers in Nevada would be on board with the changes. “There’s probably pent-up demand for electric and plug-in cars in the state.”
Lauren Rosenblatt agrees that if the new policies are adopted, they'd be in line with where car manufacturers are already headed.
“What the governor has done is both really smart and really compelled,” she said. “Because both the market and politicians have accepted green [technology].”
As an energy consultant for Las Vegas based E-Centricity, Rosenblatt helped write a report for the Governor’s Office of Energy analyzing the best approaches for electrifying Nevada’s transportation system.
“Nevada has been, step-by-step, joining the states that are pursuing clean transportation.”
Meanwhile, President Trump has been trying to cancel federal fuel efficiency regulations adopted under President Obama since 2018.
His administration also denies that California has the right to set its own standards — an arrangement protected under the Clean Air Act. In response, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford joined more than 20 other states in two lawsuits to block the Trump administration’s efforts.
Industry reaction to the legal battle over California’s stronger regulations has been mixed. One group of automakers, including General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota, sided with the Trump administration.
“We do not believe that there should be different fuel economy standards in different states. There should be one standard for all Americans and all auto companies,” Toyota said in an online statement.
But other manufacturers, including Honda, Ford, Volkswagen, and BMW, have been willing to meet California’s requirements — a move which the administration has also challenged.
Despite the uncertainty around fuel efficiency standards at the federal level, Patricia Valderrama says Gov. Sisolak’s proposal is still worth pursuing.
“The state is sending a signal to automakers and other electric transportation companies that they’re interested, open for business and that there’s an interest in efficient and electric cars,” she said.
According to Rosenblatt, Las Vegas is well-situated to become a manufacturing hub for green technology, including EVs, which it could easily export to California.
Clean Cars Nevada is currently under legal review by the state legislature. State officials expect to begin seeking public feedback on the proposal in August.
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