Abandoned gas station at the Sonoma/Marin county line
photo credit: Googlemaps
Fuel derived from fossils inched a bit closer to extinction Thursday, at least locally.
Sonoma County officials are advancing a ban on new retail gasoline and diesel fueling stations in unincorporated areas.
Several municipalities, including Petaluma, Sebastopol and Santa Rosa, have already taken the step.
But the approval, by the county planning commission, extends the prohibition to areas outside of cities, where future urbanization may occur.
Addressing the commission, house painter Fred Allebach urged adoption of a complete ban. He said he'll likely never be able to afford an electric vehicle, and fears rising fuel prices in the future should gas-powered vehicles become rare, but says the environment must come first.
"People are going to have to get used to it. This is like a diet. If you eat too many chips, you got to stop eating chips, so no new stations. You can still keep eating chips but you're not going to be able to get them on every street corner."
There are loopholes, however. Stations serving fleet vehicles, airport car rentals, county vehicles and the Sonoma Raceway were exempted, as were private pumps serving farm vehicles. 
The policy still needs approval from the board of supervisors, which could amend it.
Several ban advocates say residents of less wealthy communities usually face more exposure to air quality issues due to proximity to fueling stations. Commissioner Eric Koenigshofer however, notes that working people will likely still need traditional fuels into the future due to substantially higher sticker prices of electric vehicles and a general lack of used ones.
"The marginalized community, my thinking, in economic terms strictly, is, that's the last community that's going to be buying electric vehicles," he said.
Existing fueling stations could continue operating, though if approved as-is, stations would be forbidden from adding additional pumps, or replacing storage tanks with larger ones.
Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom and state regulators announced that sales of new gasoline and diesel powered vehicles will stop across California in 2035.
According to a recent study, in 2018, transportation accounted for sixty percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Sonoma county.
An official count found 158 fueling stations in the county, 46 of them in unincorporated areas.
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