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As California moves ahead on electric vehicles, Missouri, other states try to pull plug

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Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt attends Governor's Ham Breakfast

Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt visits with attendees at the Governor's Ham Breakfast on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo.

JEFFERSON CITY — California is moving closer to banning the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035, but Missouri and 16 other states are trying to block the maneuver.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is running for U.S. Senate, is among a group of Republican attorneys general who filed a lawsuit in May seeking to overturn President Joe Biden’s decision to allow California to set its own vehicle emissions standards.

Schmitt said allowing California to issue its own rules could cost Missourians down the road.

“If California is able to set restrictive ‘gas emissions’ standards, manufacturing becomes astronomically expensive, and those additional costs are passed onto consumers, many of which are Missourians,” Schmitt said in announcing the lawsuit.

On Wednesday, a Schmitt spokesman said, “We will continue to fight California’s efforts to impose their radical policies on the rest of the country.”

The California Air Resources Board is set to issue a rule Thursday requiring that 100% of all new cars sold in the state by 2035 be free of fossil fuel emissions.

At issue in the lawsuit was the Biden administration’s decision to allow California to set its own emissions policies aimed at addressing climate change. That ability had been stopped during former President Donald Trump’s time in office.

The lawsuit is being heard before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Schmitt, who has campaigned heavily on opposing Biden’s policies, called the California standards “oppressive.”

“As Attorney General, it’s my job to protect Missouri consumers, which is why we’re taking the Biden Administration to court,” he said in May.

He faces Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine in the Nov. 8 election. She did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. She has spoken favorably of efforts by Biden and Democrats in Congress to address global warming.

In addition to Missouri, other states that have joined the lawsuit are Ohio, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

In analyzing the push for more electric vehicles, California regulators acknowledged it could boost manufacturing costs, but also reduce gasoline costs, resulting in a net benefit to consumers.

Regulators said the proposed rule before the California board, which is seen as critical to achieving carbon neutrality by 2045, would also have significant health benefits, including 4,057 fewer cardiopulmonary deaths, 677 fewer hospital admissions for cardiovascular illness, 808 fewer hospital admissions for respiratory illness, and 1,990 fewer emergency room visits for asthma.

Biden has made addressing climate change a key component of his administration. He has committed the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 52% by 2030 against 2005 levels.

Missouri transportation officials are preparing to spend more than $100 million on electric vehicle charging stations as part of the president’s push to boost the number of battery-powered cars and trucks on the road.

The Missouri Department of Transportation recently submitted a draft report to the federal government outlining how it plans to add charging stations at key locations along the state’s interstate highway system.

There are a relatively small number of electric vehicles registered in Missouri. According to the draft, 6,740 all-electric vehicles were on the road as of June 2021, representing less than 1% of all vehicles registered in the state.

The draft report anticipates Missouri’s overall registered vehicle fleet will be about 5% electric by 2035.

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