As California goes, will the United States follow?

In September, nearly a month ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order banning the sale of new gas- and diesel-powered automobiles within the state beginning in 2035. And now, two Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Rep. Mike Levin of California, have separately introduced the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2020 in the U.S. Senate and House.  

Capitol Dome

Image source: Getty Images.

As with Gov. Newsom's order, the legislation in question would ban only the sale (not the possession, driving of, or resale) of cars powered by internal combustion engines by 2035. Technically, the law would begin with a requirement that by 2025, 50 percent of sales for new passenger vehicles are zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) powered either by batteries, fuel cells, or some other non-carbon-burning process.

Each year thereafter, the sales requirement would increase by 5 percentage points until it tops out 10 years later, in 2035, with a requirement that 100% of new vehicles sold be ZEVs.

As with the California executive order, the U.S. bill would also appear to capture, and eventually ban, the sale of hybrid-electric vehicles such as Toyota Motor's (TM 1.90%) popular Prius in favor of pure-play electric cars such as Tesla's (TSLA 2.99%) lineup of vehicles.

It should be emphasized that the proposed law is just a bill at this stage, and may never be enacted. Still, it has some support, including four co-sponsor signatures from high-profile senators such as former presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker, and 15 co-sponsors in the House.