Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on Thursday appeared to heap praise on states' efforts to fight climate change – particularly California’s gas car ban – which go well beyond policies set at the federal level.
In an interview with FOX 11’s "The Issue Is" that aired Friday, Buttigieg was asked to comment on California’s plan to ban new gas cars by the year 2035 in favor of electric vehicles and whether that could be a national model. The ban was passed just days before the state began struggling with keeping the lights on during a late summer heatwave.
Buttigieg evaded answering directly whether the Biden administration would implement a similar policy, but said it was "interesting" that some states "were trying to go above and beyond what we’re doing at the federal level."
"I’m really interested (in following) these developments, while we continue to set a national policy that’s the baseline for all of this. We need to move in the direction of electric vehicles," Buttigieg said before acknowledging that some major industries are already moving in this direction independently.
"But we’ve got to make sure that this happens quickly enough to help us beat climate change. We’ve got to make sure it happens affordably enough that’s it not just wealthy people, but (also) low-income people who most need those gas savings if they can afford the EV’s in the first place," Buttigieg said.
More than a dozen states are debating whether to adopt similar plans to California’s gas-powered vehicle bans by 2035. Several of the 17 states are likely to move forward with the plan, including Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was more explicit in her endorsement of California’s gas-powered car ban, saying recently that she backed it and commended the state for "leaning in" on climate policy.
"I think California is really leaning in," Granholm said when asked if she supported California’s law. "And, of course, the federal government has a goal of – that the president has announced – by 2030, that half of the vehicles in the U.S., the new ones sold, would be electric."
During its current heatwave, California has asked residents to refrain from using large appliances and plugging in their EVs to charge at certain times of day to avoid overwhelming the state's power grid.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda have both warned that electric generation capacity must increase dramatically if millions more cars are to be powered by the grid instead of gas.
FOX Business’ Andres Hagstrom contributed to this report.