The Oregon Department of Transportation will invest in a growing network of electric vehicle charging stations across seven major highways (Photo by National Park Service)

Oregon could soon join California and New York in banning the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 in an effort to cut emissions and curb the worst effects of global climate change. 

Under proposed rules from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, car manufacturers would need to increase the amount of zero-emission vehicles available in Oregon by 8% per year beginning in 2026. By 2030, nearly 70% of new vehicles would need to be zero-emissions. These include electric, battery-powered cars and cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Used gas-powered cars could still be sold. 

DEQ will hold two virtual public hearings about the rules on Oct. 18 and 19 and will accept public comment until Oct. 21. The state’s Environmental Quality Commission, which oversees DEQ, will vote on the rules by the end of the year. 

The agency estimates if the rules are approved, statewide carbon dioxide emissions could be cut by more than 50 million tons per year. They could also cut exhaust and particle emissions that cause and exacerbate respiratory issues, resulting in health care savings worth $8.7 million per year.

The rules would be identical to those approved in California on Aug. 25. New York state adopted California’s rules Sept. 29.

Oregon has adopted California’s vehicle emissions rules since 2005. 

On the potential to adopt California’s car standards, DEQ said: “The regulation will lead to the production of high-quality electric vehicles and ensure long-lasting emissions benefits. It will also support the development of a robust used zero-emission vehicle market.” Transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon, accounting for 36% of the state’s annual emissions. 

The Washington Department of Ecology will also vote on adopting California’s rules by the end of the year.

Oregonian’s can take advantage of state and federal rebate programs on the purchase of new and used electric vehicles worth as much as $15,000 when combined.

Oregon Capital Chronicle

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Alex Baumhardt, Oregon Capital Chronicle

Alex Baumhardt has been a national radio producer focusing on education for American Public Media since 2017. She has reported from the Arctic to the Antarctic for national and international media, and from Minnesota and Oregon for The Washington Post. She previously worked in Iceland and Qatar and was a Fulbright scholar in Spain where she earned a master's degree in digital media. She's been a kayaking guide in Alaska, farmed on four continents and worked the night shift at several bakeries to support her reporting along the way.