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Jerry Brown Hastens Death of the Internal Combustion Engine

A trucking industry publication, Commercial Carrier Journal, criticized Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) thinking behind a quest to follow China’s lead and ban internal combustion engines in California as misdirected, misguided, and well, a mystery.

However, General Motors, seeing the writing on the world’s wall, has decided to leapfrog ahead of whatever plans China and California might be making for their nation’s cars and trucks by committing to the production of only electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The Commercial Carrier Journal staff thinks it would be a huge mistake to dump the internal combustion engine in favor of electric vehicles.

“Given that the California Air Resources Board recently awarded its lowest emissions score ever to a natural gas-powered vehicle — and not an electric vehicle — it’s odd that the state and its strict emissions regulators recently indicated a plan to follow China’s footsteps in phasing out entirely the internal combustion engine,” the CCJ staff wrote.

Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, told Bloomberg News in September that Brown had been asking her why there was a delay in enacting a ban on fossil-fueled engines.

“I’ve gotten messages from the governor asking, ‘Why haven’t we done something already?’” Nichols said, referring to China’s planned phase-out of fossil-fuel vehicle sales.

In California, the CARB said, “The transportation sector is responsible for nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and is also by far the largest source of smog-causing pollution and fine particle pollution.”

“The governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can do this and not California,” Nichols added.

Bloomberg opined that such a strategy would put new pressure on automakers to switch to all-electric vehicles and would “send shockwaves” through auto companies, not just in California or the U.S. but around the world.

"We have been working with California on intelligent, market-based approaches to emissions reductions beyond 2025, and we hope that this doesn’t signal an abandonment of that position,” John Bozzella, chief executive officer of the Association of Global Automakers, said in a statement.

Nichols’ revelation of Gov. Brown’s fascination with eliminating internal combustion engines, just as China plans, should not have come as a surprise.

“In order to achieve California’s climate goals, we need more electric cars and more hydrogen fuel cell cars that are charged with renewable energy,” Brown said in June following a meeting with China’s leading automakers and battery manufacturers.

Brown and Nichols also said California would establish what a CARB press release described as “a new working group through the China-US ZEV Policy Lab at UC Davis to expand cooperation with Chinese zero-emission vehicle and battery technology companies.”

However, casting even more doubt on Brown’s embrace of electric vehicles, Tom Quimby, the editor of Hard Working Trucks, pointed to a California Air Resources Board study that awarded the lowest emissions score ever to renewable natural gas (RNG) produced at an AMP Americas Indiana facility.