Maine is soon to join California in the adoption of stringent mandates requiring a hefty percentage of new car sales to be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in the near future.
The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (Maine BEP) voted 4-2 earlier today in favor of adopting California’s Advanced Clear Car Program, requiring that 43% of new cars sold in Maine be ZEVs by model year 2027 and 82% by model year 2032.
Rejected by the Maine BEP, however, was California’s Advanced Clean Truck Program — a set of rules that would have meant that anywhere from 40% to 75% of new medium- and heavy-duty truck sales would need to be ZEVs by model year 2035 dependent upon the vehicle’s class.
According to the Portland Press Herald, members of the Board indicated opposition to the requirements for truck sales for several reasons, including: (1) Maine lacks an adequate number of charging stations, (2) the costs of electric-powered trucks are unrealistically high, and (3) the program would not cut emissions at a high enough rate compared to existing federal regulations to make it worthwhile.
Consideration of these California-style proposals was initiated by two citizens petitions submitted to the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
According to Maine law, anyone can ask a state agency to adopt or change a rule so long as they are able to submit a petition signed by 150-plus registered voters supporting the request in question.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine utilized this procedure to bring these regulatory propositions before the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
A final vote will not be taken by the Maine BEP until the Board has officially responded to more than a thousand public comments that were offered in relation to the proposed rule change.
Over the summer, the Maine BEP held a public hearing concerning these rule changes that drew a crowd of more than 150 people, 87 of whom signed up to offer testimony.
The Maine Senate Republicans issued a statement earlier this afternoon detailing their position on the Maine BEP’s decision.
“Far-left progressives do everything they can to increase the cost of living for Maine’s citizens; and this is yet another example of that,” Sen. Matt Harrington (R-York) — Senate Republican Lead for the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee — said in the press release. “From senseless energy policies to now forcing Maine consumers to buy electric vehicles they don’t want, cannot afford or that aren’t practical for their needs, just three members of a seven-member unelected board chose to put their own interests above that of 1.3 million other Mainers.”
“The Legislature will need to address this situation where a petition process let 150 special interest lobbyists and their allies force Maine BEP to even consider this insane rule, let alone a board that itself has run amok,” Sen. Harrington added.
“Today, 150 people decided to use three members of a seven-member unelected board to hijack the entire legislative process and advance their own far-left agenda through an initiative that will be disastrous to Maine’s economy and harmful to our people,” Sen. Brad Farrin (R-Somerset) — Senate Republican Lead for the Legislature’s Transportation Committee — said in the statement.
“How sad is it that only one-ten-thousandth of all Maine citizens can wreak economic devastation on the rest of us through this awful process? During today’s meeting, Maine BEP board members admitted they’re concerned they will be challenged by the Legislature,” Sen. Farrin said. “Damn right they will be – we won’t let seven unelected people who aren’t answerable to the public override the 186 members of the Legislature who earned our place at the table through an election.”
As of this article’s publication, Maine Senate Democrats have not issued a public statement concerning today’s decision by the Maine BEP.
The Maine DEP is expected to reconvene in December to discuss and vote on any potential adjustments that may need to be made to the new ZEV mandates before their final adoption by the Board.