‘You can’t even keep the lights on!’ EPA chief mocks California’s 2035 ban on sales of gas-powered cars

The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency has panned California’s new goal to outlaw all sales of gas-powered cars by 2035, insisting the plan is neither legal nor practical given the state’s current power grid problems.

In a letter penned to California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said that a recent executive order seeking to replace all gas-guzzling vehicles with electric cars would run into legal issues and would be unworkable, arguing that California “is already struggling to maintain reliable electricity for today’s demands.”

“Your recent executive order (EO) establishing a goal that 100 percent of new vehicle sales be zero emission by 2035 raises serious questions regarding its legality and practicality,” Wheeler wrote, adding that while the EO “seems to be mostly aspirational,” any attempt to implement it would need approval from the EPA.

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.

Signed last week, Newsom’s executive order comes as the state’s latest effort to phase out vehicles heavier on carbon emissions, to which California has already committed some $2.46 billion, encouraging various government agencies to make the switch from internal combustion engines to electric cars. The state has embarked on other ambitious environmental goals, working to cut emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and by 80 percent by 2050. Newsom has also urged the state legislature to pass a ban on hydraulic fracturing to obtain oil in California, also known as “fracking.”

Wheeler, however, said some of those plans may be too optimistic, suggesting that if the state implemented a full switch to electric cars, it would have “even worse power shortages than the ones that have already caused a series of otherwise preventable environmental and public health consequences,” citing an incident in August in which a power outage at a wastewater treatment plant resulted in 50,000 gallons of raw sewage pouring into the Oakland Estuary.

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Cars travel along a freeway in down town Los Angeles, California, US
California to ban sales of gasoline cars by 2035

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Kentucky AG to release grand jury records in Breonna Taylor case after juror files motion to disclose details of proceedings

Kentucky’s attorney general will release a recording from the grand jury probe into the death of Breonna Taylor, saying he would do so hours after a juror on the case filed a motion to go public with details about the proceeding.

While state AG Daniel Cameron said in a statement on Monday that grand juries are meant to be “secretive,” he acknowledged that “public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen” soon after a judge ordered the recording of the grand jury proceeding to be released this week.

“We will comply with the judge’s order to release the recording on Wednesday,” Cameron said, despite “concerns” the disclosure could “compromise the ongoing federal investigation” into Taylor’s death.

Once the public listens to the recording, they will see that over the course of two-and-a-half days, our team presented a thorough and complete case to the grand jury.

Cameron added that the recording would “also address the legal complaint filed by an anonymous grand juror,” referring to a motion submitted anonymously earlier on Monday alleging that the AG used jurors as a “shield to deflect accountability” and requesting permission to disclose details about the jury’s proceedings.

“The attorney general publicly made many statements that referenced what the grand jury heard and decisions that were made based on what certain witnesses said,” the juror’s motion said, adding “He further laid those decisions at the feet of the grand jury while failing to answer specific questions regarding the charges presented.”

Attorney General Cameron attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision on who and what to charge based solely on the evidence presented to them.

The juror’s motion also requests authorization to divulge information about what did not happen during the grand jury probe, such as what charges were not presented and what witnesses were skipped over during the process, arguing there is a “compelling public interest” for those facts to be known.

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Protesters march in Louisville, Kentucky, after one officer was charged in relation ot Breonna Taylor's death, September 26, 2020 © Reuters / Eduardo Munoz
Ex-cop pleads NOT GUILTY to endangerment charges in Breonna Taylor shooting case

Cameron announced last week that the grand jury had decided not to indict three officers for Taylor’s death, which occurred during a narcotics raid on her home in March. Instead, the jury charged only one officer, Brett Hankison, for three counts of “wanton endangerment” linked to reckless use of his weapon, finding that Taylor’s death was justified because her boyfriend opened fire on officers as they attempted to serve a search warrant.

Hankison pleaded not guilty to those charges during his arraignment on Monday, after which Judge Ann Bailey Smith ordered the grand jury recording to be released “by noon on Wednesday of this week.”

The legal wrangling over the recording comes days after Vice News obtained body camera footage from the night of the raid on Taylor’s apartment. Though it depicts only the aftermath of the shooting, the videos reportedly show officers violating department policies, one of which requires personnel involved in shootings to be isolated from other officers, which was not done. At one point in the footage, Hankison is seen attempting to enter Taylor’s apartment after the shooting, but is asked by another officer to leave.

Though her family received a $12 million settlement from the city, Taylor’s death – as well as the lack of murder charges for the officers responsible – has stoked heated protests and rioting across the US, seeing chaos and unrest in Louisville last week, during which two police officers were shot. The disorder comes amid a wave of similar anti-police brutality protests nationwide, sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of officers in Minneapolis last spring.

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‘It will always be us against them’: Breonna Taylor family slam grand jury decision, says black people ‘never safe’

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