California raises possibility of banning petroleum-burning cars

California would be the first U.S. state to ban the internal combustion engine.

In response to the Trump administration's proposal to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards, a top California environmental regulator has raised the threat of total ban on internal combustion engines.

California and the federal government have been sparring for the last several months over tailpipe regulations, with the back-and-forth reaching new heights on Thursday when California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols raised the possibility of a state-wide ban on gas- and diesel-powered vehicles.

"CARB will be exploring ways to ensure communities get the reductions of air pollution they so desperately need to keep the air clean and breathable -- and continue to fight climate change,” Nichols said, according to Bloomberg. "That might mean, for example, tougher requirements for low-carbon fuels, looking at tighter health-protective regulations on California refineries, doubling down on our enforcement efforts on mobile and stationary sources -- and might lead to an outright ban on internal combustion engines.”

California, the most stringent state for vehicle emissions in the nation, is fighting the Trump administration for the right to set its own emissions standards. California wants to retain requirements it helped put into place with president Obama that would require a 47mpg fleet average after 2020. President Trump, meanwhile, is pushing to cap fuel economy regulations at 37mpg.

California and the federal government called off talks regarding future fuel economy standards in February, leaving the industry in a state of uncertainty.

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