Ohio Law Bans State Adoption of California Emission Rules

Consumers Allowed to Determine What Type of Vehicle to Purchase
Getty Image of a woman pumping gas
Ohio's new law prevents the adoption of California’s widespread emissions regulations that require the sales of new passenger cars and trucks to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. (SDI Productions/Getty Images)

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In a slap to California, Ohio has a law taking effect in March that bans agencies from adopting the Golden State's emissions regulations and protects the sale and use of diesel and gasoline vehicles.

House Bill 201: “Prohibit Sale Restrictions on Motor Vehicle Based on Power Source” will take effect March 28 after being signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine on Dec. 28.

“The [Ohio] environmental protection agency or any other state agency shall not adopt any motor vehicle emissions standards that are established by California as a result of California having received a waiver pursuant to section 209(b) of the federal Clean Air Act,” the law declares. “No state agency, township or county shall restrict the use or sale of a motor vehicle based on the energy source used to power the motor vehicle, including an energy source used for propulsion or used for powering other functions of the motor vehicle.”

The legislation was sponsored by Republican Reps. Brett Hillyer, an attorney, and Steve Demetriou, a West Point graduate and veteran who received the Bronze Star, and introduced in June as amendments to state code. The measure passed the House 60-31 and Senate 23-8 on Dec. 13 before landing on the governor’s desk.

Brett Hillyer (left), Steve Demetriou

Republican Reps. Brett Hillyer (left) and Steve Demetriou 

Prior to the its passage in the 135th General Assembly, the Ohio Legislative Service Commission conducted a bill analysis that studied motor vehicle energy sources and emissions standards. Findings noted that the “federal Clean Air Act (with the U.S. EPA’s approval) allows California to enact stricter emissions standards for new motor vehicles,” but federal law prohibits any other state from enacting stricter emissions standards on their own. “However, a state may elect to voluntarily opt-in to the California standards,” it added.

To prevent any Ohio state or local government agency from an “opt-in,” the new law prevents the adoption of California’s widespread emissions regulations requiring its sales of new passenger cars and trucks by 2035 to be zero-emission vehicles (such as those powered by electric batteries or hydrogen fuel cells) and sales of new medium and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045 also to be zero emission.

Overwhelming support for the bill was evidenced by proponents. Among the four supporters who testified in the House were the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association, ABATE Ohio, Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

R. Todd Williams, director of Drive Electric Columbus, was among the two groups opposing the bill. “We believe the widespread adoption of electric vehicles is crucial for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, mitigating climate change and improving air quality,” Williams stated, noting that such a law would create “significant challenges to the advancement of electric vehicle adoption in Ohio.”

He said the measure would impede job creation in zero-emission vehicles while hindering the state’s “ability to address air quality concerns and restrict Ohio from benefiting from advancements in cleaner vehicle technologies.”


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Chris Ventura, Midwest executive director of Houston-based CEA, testified in support of the legislation. After it was enacted, he praised Ohio lawmakers for ensuring state residents have the “right to buy the vehicle of their choosing” regardless of fuel type. His organization represents local businesses, farmers and families.

“While other states attempt to dictate EV sales, Ohio is right to let the customer decide, especially now that America’s auto manufacturers are slashing EV production goals by as much as half,” Ventura stated. “The early-adoption EV sales phase is over, and demand is slowing because of real-world concerns about recharging, range, the electric grid’s ability to meet demand and the cost of new EVs and battery replacements.”

In June, CEA released a 19-page report ("Freedom to Fuel: Consumer Choice in the Automotive Marketplace 2023") examining multiple aspects of the impact of regulation to force the use of zero-emission vehicles over conventional diesel and gas vehicles. Truck drivers were mentioned in policy considerations regarding state employment implications.

Ripple Effect

Ways zero-emission vehicle mandates could negatively and “substantially” impact other occupations with sector and number of employees:

  • Motor vehicle parts dealers: 1.926 million
  • Automobile dealers: 1.22 million
  • Automotive repair/maintenance: 917,000 
  • Retail automotive parts/accessories: 542,000 
  • Automotive parts manufacturing: 244,000 
  • Motor vehicle and parts wholesalers: 339,000 
  • Motor vehicle manufacturing: 244,000 

Source: "Freedom to Fuel: Consumer Choice in the Automotive Marketplace 2023"

Noting there are 1.5 million truck drivers in the nation, the report raised the issue of the impact of zero-emission vehicles on the “crude petroleum and petroleum-product trucking activity” if this industry goes away since the “tank truck market as a whole represents $49 billion of economic activity.”

“One of the most obvious businesses at risk under EV mandates are gas stations and their associated convenience stores. While there may be some shift to adding electric charging stations at existing fueling stations, the bulk of the funding for expanded charging is not going to installations at gas stations.

“Rather, it is being allocated for more public charging facilities, utility-owned locations, hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and similar locations. Industry statistics indicate that there are over 64,000 gas stations with convenience stores in the United States, employing 890,000 individuals,” the report surmised, adding “these jobs will be, in effect, mandated away by the government.”

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