New York is the latest state to push for a ban on the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

New York joins Massachusetts and Washington state in following the plans of California, which on August 25 passed the nation’s first measure banning the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035. 

New York’s mandate is part of a nationwide push for widespread electric vehicle ownership, supported by the Biden Administration as part of its climate policies. In addition, New York has set a 2050 goal to reduce vehicle emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels. The state also plans to completely electrify its school bus fleet by 2035. A 2021 state emissions report found that transportation was responsible for 28 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions

Both Washington and Massachusetts immediately set their own plans in motion to ban sales of new gas-powered vehicles after California’s decision. The two states have so-called trigger laws, which direct them to follow whatever emissions reduction policies are put in place in California. While Washington’s mandate has an identical 2035 deadline, the state hopes to completely phase out new gas-powered vehicle sales by 2030.

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New York’s regulation will go into effect in stages in order to reach the state’s 2035 target. Thirty five percent of new cars purchased will need to be zero-emission by 2026, and 68 percent by 2030. 

But promoting electric vehicle adoption and reducing transportation emissions would require an easier path for low and middle income households to afford to buy an electric vehicle. To address affordability, New York is providing assistance for potential electric vehicle buyers in the form of tax credits, in addition to the existing ones available through the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Across the country, lack of access to charging infrastructure remains a significant barrier for many of the nation’s low-income households and communities of color. Last week, EVolve NY, a program of the New York Power Authority, the largest state public power utility in the U.S., celebrated the completion of its 100th high-speed charging station, part of a statewide network. But electric vehicle advocates argue that prioritizing the placement of the nation’s charging stations along major highways might encourage long-distance travel but bypass many low-income urban neighborhoods. While a handful of cities are partnering with the private sector to provide streetside charging infrastructure, concerns remain about access to charging stations for those living in apartments or without parking garages.

The health risks associated with vehicular air pollution have a disproportionate impact on the state’s most disadvantaged communities — often low-income Black, Indigenous, and Latino — who are more likely to live adjacent to transit routes with heavy vehicle traffic. A report this year from the American Lung Association found that a transition to 100 percent sales of zero-emission vehicles would prevent 110,000 premature deaths, three million asthma attacks, and over 13 million workdays lost due to air pollution. 

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