The head of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Andrew Wheeler mocked and threatened to block California’s recently announced plan to phase out gas-powered cars.

In order to help accelerate the electrification of passenger cars, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans last week for the state to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles starting in 2035.

It’s the first time a large US state has taken such an initiative, but several countries around the world have already set deadlines on the sale of gasoline-powered cars.

Wheeler, who used to be a lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry before being nominated for the head of the EPA by President Trump, seems to have forgotten again that he is now supposed to work to protect the environment in a letter to Newsom criticizing the ban.

Under Trump, the EPA has been fighting and trying to revoke California’s authority to set higher emissions standards, established more than 50 years ago under the federal Clean Air Act.

Now in a letter sent to Newsom this week and obtained by Reuters, Wheeler suggested that California’s new ban on gas cars, which still needs to be made official by the California Air Resource Board, could be illegal and is a bad idea:

“EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the plan “raises serious questions regarding its legality and practicality” and said it could cause problems for the state’s electrical grid. He also declared the move could be subject to federal approval, saying it “may require California to request a waiver to U.S. EPA.”

The head of the Environmental “Protection” Agency used California’s rolling blackouts as an example of why the state couldn’t support a larger electric vehicle fleet:

California’s record of rolling blackouts—unprecedented in size and scope—coupled with recent requests to neighboring states for power begs the question of how you expect to run an electric car fleet that will come with significant increases in electricity demand, when you can’t even keep the lights on today.

California utilities had to employ rolling blackouts on several hundred thousand customers last month for several reasons, including one of their gas power plants suddenly going offline.

Electrek’s Take

Let’s forget for a second that the Environmental “Protection” Agency is advocating to not accelerate a planned phase out on gas-powered cars over 15 years but to stop it and look into the weak argument he brought forward.

Wheeler claims that more electric vehicles will further deteriorate the grid rather than stabilize it. He is wrong.

Electric vehicles, especially in high volumes, can be an asset to the electric grid instead of a handicap and it can directly help with the problems that lead to rolling blackouts.

Electric utilities are just starting to understand the potential of using electric vehicles to provide grid services through controllable loads and vehicle-to-grid features.

A recent study showed that electric vehicle fleets could save billions of dollars in grid stabilization costs by simply controlling when they are being charged.

Several electric utilities and automakers have pilot programs to help build grid services based on electric vehicles.

The study also shows that EVs with vehicle-to-grid capabilities could be even greater assets for electric utilities.

Combined with the increased deployment of stationary energy storage on the grid, I think electric vehicles will help stabilize the California grid — not make it worse.

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