Youngkin declares ‘independence from California’ as Virginia exits emissions pact

Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has withdrawn the state from a 2021 pact that had mandated adherence to California’s stringent emissions standards – including a ban on internal combustion vehicles by 2035.

Youngkin and legislative Republicans previously failed to repeal the law, which linked Virginia with California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) standards, and Wednesday’s move similarly did not go over well with some state Democrats as of the following morning.

In an interview Thursday, Youngkin bluntly said, “They’re wrong,” when asked about Democratic pushback that he and Attorney General Jason Miyares were overstepping their bounds.

“In fact, the law is very clear and the [Miyares]’ opinion is clear and straightforward. The California Regulatory Framework ACC-1 sunsets on December 31st, 2024.”

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“The new California framework, ACC-2, we are choosing not to enter into and are exercising our autonomous decision authority to, in fact, place ourselves under the federal government’s guidelines here as opposed to California,” he said.

“There’s no controversy. And once again, these are the exact same legislators that surrendered Virginia’s autonomy in decision-making over this, over this issue to California’s unregulated regulators. And, we’re taking it back.”

In response to the administration’s move, state Sen. Scott Surovell, the number-two Democrat in the chamber, compared Youngkin to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and accused Miyares of giving Youngkin “cover” to act as such.

Surovell called Youngkin and Miyares’ actions “reckless, illegal and unconstitutional” in comments reported by the Virginia Mercury. 

“[They] are destructive of Virginia’s pro-business reputation,” Surovell said, adding that the American Revolution was fought so that a state executive would never be able to “nullify laws by-press-conference.”

Youngkin appeared unfazed by the Putin allegation, telling Fox News Digital that Virginia simply “declared independence yesterday from California.”

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“Virginians should be deciding what car they drive, not California’s unelected regulators. These misguided mandates were wrong from the beginning and we are going to liberate Virginia from them.”

He predicted that if the regulatory pact were to remain in place, it would cost Virginians a net $1.2 billion to comply, calling it an unwarranted economic penalty on hard-working residents.

When it comes to the future of U.S. energy production and technology, Youngkin added that it will be American innovation – not bureaucratic whims – that craft it.

In a statement, state Sen. Ryan McDougle, a New Kent County Republican who joined Youngkin’s withdrawal request, said the CARB standards are unique to California and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s own orders.

“Virginia’s laws should not be determined by California politicians. Instead, our laws should be decided by Virginians who are elected to serve Virginia and address issues that face our commonwealth, not a state nearly 3,000 miles away,” McDougle said.

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Miyares said that if the Democratic majority in the General Assembly wants to craft a bill imposing outside control over Virginia residents’ vehicle purchases, he welcomes that debate:

“That’s the beauty of democracy,” he said, calling California’s rules unrealistic and costly: “If you want to purchase an electric vehicle, that is your choice, but, rather than enforcing a one-size-fits-all mandate, I want Virginia consumers to choose the transportation options that best suit their specific needs and circumstances.”

Fox News Digital has reached out to Newsom’s office for comment.