Virginia Becomes First to Revoke California's Emissions Standards, EV Mandates

Internal combustion engines

By the SEMA Washington, D.C., office

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin announced this week that the Commonwealth would not adopt California's 2035 ban on selling new gas- and diesel-powered motor vehicles.  

"Seventeen states have attached themselves to California's emissions standards over the past 20-plus years. Nine states have passed laws or resolutions rejecting government deciding what technology American consumers must purchase and buy," said SEMA President and CEO Mike Spagnola. "Virginia is now the first state in the nation to untangle itself from California's emissions standards and EV mandates. We applaud Governor Youngkin for this bold action that rejects the notion that California should determine policies for nearly half of American consumers. We urge other states to follow Virginia's lead." 

Virginia lawmakers passed a law in 2021 under Youngkin's predecessor, tying the state to California's emissions standards, which includes California's 100% EV mandate by 2035. Since then, SEMA-supported bills aiming to repeal the law have narrowly failed to pass the Democratically controlled legislature.  

Elected in 2021, Youngkin campaigned on repealing California's standards and pledged to follow through during his 2023 State of the Commonwealth address. 

"It defies common sense that in 2021, lawmakers decided that instead of writing our own electric vehicle laws, Virginia would simply do whatever California decided to do," said Governor Youngkin. "Because lawmakers outsourced their responsibilities and surrendered our values to California--Virginians face a mandate starting in 2024 that limits and eventually bans the buying of gas-powered cars or trucks. Unless we act, Virginia is hostage to the extreme policies of California. Common sense says that the law of Virginia should be written by elected leaders here--not outsourced to radical bureaucrats in California." 

In 2023, SEMA launched Driving Force Action, an independent expenditure campaign that supported candidates who pledged to repeal Virginia's internal combustion engine ban. Three of the four candidates backed by Driving Force Action won their races. Throughout the campaign, Driving Force Action made significant gains in educating voters and consumers in the Commonwealth about the limits of our freedom to choose the cars we love and the choices that best suit our families' needs. 

For more information, contact Christian Robinson at