Several news outlets are reporting on this story this week:

Several of these reports reference a plan released by the governor's office: "Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap" (pdf). This is not legislation or an executive order, and even if it were, it doesn't appear to say anything about vehicle sales in 2035.

Digging deeper, a press release from the governor's office accompanying release of the plan does include this paragraph (emphasis added):

The transportation sector highlights a renewed focus on the deployment of electric vehicles with new, nation-leading state and regional programs including the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program. Building on that progress, Massachusetts will join California in requiring that by 2035, 100% of new light-duty vehicles sold in the Commonwealth are zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) support the continued build-out of statewide charging infrastructure, including additional consumer incentives for residential EV charging systems.

There are obviously some words missing between "(ZEVs)" and "support," but again, not enough to explain how this requirement will be implemented. The press release only references the plan, and there is no mention of legislation, an executive order, what office will be working on this, or where to find more detail.

Is there more detail somewhere? How will the Mass. government implement a ban on sales of non-zero emitting vehicles?

  • Why would it not work the same way the present ban on sales of vehicles that don't meet current emissions standards works?
    – jamesqf
    Jan 9, 2021 at 19:14
  • @jamesqf if it did, that would answer my question, but I couldn't find any indication of how it works.
    – LShaver
    Jan 10, 2021 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


Massachusetts will adopt California's regulations, which have the same effect

Relevant fine print in the PDF report linked in the question (direct link) states:

Massachusetts does not have independent authority to regulate vehicle fuel efficiency or tailpipe emissions. However, under a federally granted waiver, California may issue such regulations for vehicles sold in that state, and under the provisions of Section 177 of the U.S. Clean Air Act, other states can adopt California vehicle emissions standards in lieu of otherwise applicable federal fuel efficiency requirements. Massachusetts is required by law (M.G.L. 111§142K) to adopt California’s vehicle emissions regulations if they are more stringent than the federal standards.

(emphasis mine)

The Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L) in pertinent part (M.G.L. 111§142K) states:

the department of environmental protection, hereinafter referred to as the department, shall adopt motor vehicle emissions standards based on the California's [sic] duly promulgated motor vehicle emissions standards of the state of California unless, after a public hearing, the department establishes, based on substantial evidence, that said emissions standards and a compliance program similar to the state of California's will not achieve, in the aggregate, greater motor vehicle pollution reductions than the federal standards and compliance program.

(emphasis also mine)

As noted in this press release from the California Governor's office, the California Air Resources board will develop regulations which "mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035".

The law in question is quite clear - if California adopts a stricter emissions standard compared to the federal level (final determination of this lies in the government department mentioned in my last quote above, via public hearing), the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection must adopt those exact standards.

  • Interesting. So even without the MA roadmap, this legislation would have gone into effect in MA? Meaning, the governor didn't actually do anything here, but it is taking credit for it?
    – LShaver
    Jan 10, 2021 at 15:36
  • @LShaver The law in question appears to date from the 1990s (due to its reference to car model years in that range), so yes to your question above (provided the law was not introduced as a result of the roadmap in question)
    – anon
    Jan 10, 2021 at 15:39

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