In recent months, several auto manufacturers have made splashy and ambitious commitments to switching away from gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 10, 15 or 20 years.
And what had to happen is now starting to. A California city has become the first in the U.S. to legislate a ban on the opening of new gas stations within its city limits. This is the kind of news that could easily fly under the radar, but it's very significant. It explicitly foreshadows big changes to come.
That city is Petaluma, located in Sonoma County, about 60 km north of San Francisco and the ban is a big step towards goal of attaining carbon neutrality by 2030. And not only has city council approved a ban on the construction of new gas stations, it went even further, prohibiting the addition of new pumps to existing stations.
According to a report by KTVU FOX 2, the city council voted unanimously to adopt the measure. If unopposed, the ordinance is considered to be widely accepted and supported by residents. The city of Petaluma has a population of 61,000 and currently has 16 gas stations. Ironically, it had already approved the construction of one new station, so a 17th will be built. But it will be the last.
The city's efforts to minimize dependence on fossil fuels are also aimed at clearing the path for more of charging stations for electric vehicles at existing service stations. In addition to EV charging points, this involves facilitating the infrastructure for other energy sources such as hydrogen. Note that in California, the infrastructure for hydrogen-powered vehicles is much more developed than in Canada.
Recall that the state of California has announced an executive order that will prohibit the sale of any new vehicle equipped with a combustion engine as of 2035.
It remains to be seen whether other cities will follow Petaluma's example, but frankly that’s more a question of when than if.