Commentary

Governor Mills’ pursuit of California-style EV mandates will hurt Mainers, do little to address climate change

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High energy costs are making Maine increasingly unaffordable for people of average means. Misguided state energy policies are contributing to the problem of high energy costs and are making a bad situation even worse.

Governor Mills is committed to California-style electric vehicle mandates.

Despite the Governor’s recent claim that she doesn’t support a California-style mandate to ban gasoline vehicles by 2035, her Climate Council’s recommendations, the updated Maine Clean Transportation Roadmap, and Maine’s close adherence to some of California’s stringent emissions standards make that difficult to believe.

Her Clean Transportation Roadmap states:

“The most important regulatory driver in the electrification of Maine’s light-duty vehicles in the next two decades will be through Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) standards, which have been adopted in California and are expected to be adopted in Maine in 2022.”

This same report requires a gas tax hike to fund electric vehicle expansion.

Last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted to eliminate the sale of gasoline and diesel engines by 2035.

Think about that…

No sale of gasoline and diesel engines by 2035!

As gas prices begin to dip slightly from record highs it’s hard not to feel as though Democrats seem intent on keeping prices up to meet their emissions reduction goals.

The central strategy is to increase the number of electric vehicles in Maine by nearly 4,000% and reduce the number of miles you drive by 20% in the next 7 years (5,677 to 219,000 by 2030).

As emissions continue to drop, Maine’s rural driving, cars, and trucks, will be increasingly viewed as part of the problem.

Currently, all new vehicles sold in Maine must meet California’s Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards. Standards that are being updated in concert with recently adopted rules to completely eliminate gas vehicles by 2035. According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) their coming LEV IV exhaust emission standards for 2026 model years “will reduce emissions from combustion engine vehicles, potentially for the last time given the rapid pace of electrification.” Consider that Maine has handed control of what you have to pay for cars over to the legislature in California. If they increase a requirement Maine necessarily must follow suite. You didn’t vote for anyone in the California Legislature, yet they get to set our standards.

Maine’s Clean Transportation Roadmap, produced by the Governor’s Energy Office, continues to rebut the Governor’s claim she isn’t interested in California. The report’s first recommendation to increase electric vehicle use in Maine is the adoption of the California Advanced Clean Cars II (ACCII) program that will effectively eliminate gasoline cars and truck sales. The road map’s rationale states that it, “Sends a clear, long-term signal to automakers to increase deliveries of (electric vehicles).”

Most Mainers know this kind of fully electric vision for our rural state isn’t realistic where trips are long and 3 of the top 5 selling vehicles are trucks with no viable alternative to replace their 62% share of light vehicles sold here.

Taking out a more than $50,000 loan for a vehicle that lacks the size and capability required to replace the F-150, or a minivan isn’t realistic when times are good. It is even more outrageous when we are facing double digit inflation and electricity rates have increased 83%. Even as charging infrastructure grows, it won’t be enough to deal with longer charging times and range reductions of around 20% in cold weather.

Republicans, who spend their time in the outdoors hunting, fishing, hiking, and enjoying all that Maine has to offer, want to have the cleanest air and water possible for future generations. But before acting, we must also be sure that state government policies do not come at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens, and that the policy being implemented will have an impact on the problem being addressed.

To better understand why the sky is not falling:

  • The United States is on track to cut emissions an estimated 26-41% from 2005 levels, under current climate policy.
  • Maine’s Total emissions from the transportation sector were 8% lower in 2019 than 1990.
  • Maine is approximately 75 percent of the way toward carbon neutrality, meaning 75 percent of gross greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced or are offset by sequestration in the environment.

Governor Mills’ slavish adherence to California standards will make life even harder for rural Mainers struggling to keep pace with rising costs. That is bad enough. It is even more troubling that her policies will have little to no effect on addressing climate change.

This article is the Weekly Republican Radio Address from September 1, 2022.

About Steven Foster

Rep. Steven Foster was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 2018 after serving as a member of the MSAD 46 School Board from 2000 to 2012. He has also served on the MSAD 46/AOS 94 School Board from 2000-2012. He currently serves on the Legislature's Energy, Utilities & Technology Committee.

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