Carrots and sticks

September 15, 2022

To influence change, carrots (e.g., incentives and investments) and sticks (e.g., rules and fees) are useful. Both carrots and sticks are headlining the news. The Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Biden last month is full of carrots. These are just a few:

  • Clean manufacturing investment tax credit
  • Tribal climate resilience investments
  • Commercial energy efficiency tax deduction
  • Funding for zero-emission equipment and technology at ports 
  • Funding for clean heavy-duty vehicles 
  • Wind, solar, and battery manufacturing production tax credit
    A new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie says the U.S. solar market will nearly triple over the next five years, thanks to long-term certainty provided by the Inflation Reduction Act

As we learned on our recent study mission to California, that state is very good at putting carrots to work, with incentives for EVs, electric buses and trucks, charging infrastructure, dairy digesters, port and maritime electrification, solar energy, and so much more. Just last week the California Legislature passed the historic California Climate Commitment package of bills.

Read our Trip Report

Hot off the press – to learn about incentive programs like HVIP, ZANZEFF, Clean Cars 4 All, EnergIIZE, CAPP, ZIP, and others.

As for sticks, California recently announced they will ban sales of gas-powered cars by 2035. 

This is the most important and most transformative action that CARB (California Air Resources Board) has ever taken,” said Daniel Sperling, a member of the board, “This is good not just for the environment but for the economy.

California’s mandate “marries quite well with G.M.’s business plans,” said Omar Vargas, head of global public policy at the company, during an online discussion last week organized by The New York Times.

Per The Seattle Times, Governor Jay Inslee said that Washington would follow California’s lead and ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. (New plug-in electric hybrids and used gas-powered vehicles will still be allowed.) The specific regulations for Washington will be sharpened in the coming weeks and months and the public has the opportunity to weigh in until October 19.

KUOW reports Vicki Giles Fabré with the Washington State Auto Dealers Association said in an email that her group supports Washington’s goal of all-electric vehicle sales by 2030.

Officials in New York, Rhode Island and Oregon tell CNN that they plan to enact a similar ban, while Maryland and New Jersey officials say they’re considering it. Massachusetts already adopted a trigger provision mandating alignment with California’s ban. 

Virginia, too, is legally bound to follow the state of California in banning the sale of new internal combustion-powered vehicles by 2035. Per ClimateNexus, that state’s Republican Assistant Attorney General has concluded it is “statutorily and regulatorily aligned with California” and is “bound” by the new targets. 

Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, called the new rule “one of the most significant steps to the elimination of the tailpipe as we know it. Our kids are going to act like it’s a rotary phone, or changing the channel on a television.

That comment brought to mind this funny video from about ten years ago:

With sales of new gas-powered cars banned after 2035 in CA, WA, and many other states, will gasoline-burning cars also seem absurd about ten years from now?

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