Last night, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate emissions standards for new vehicles — and Maine’s delegation was split.
The bill approved by a margin of 221 to 197 would specifically prohibit the EPA from (1) mandating the use of any specific technology and (2) approving rules that would result in the limitation of new vehicles based on engine type.
The EPA would also be blocked from “finalizing, implementing, or enforcing the proposed rule titled Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light-Duty and Medium-Duty Vehicles.”
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) opposed the measure in last night’s roll call — voting alongside the majority of House Democrats — while Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) joined the House Republicans in support of the bill.
Rep. Golden released a statement on his decision to vote in favor of the measure.
“Demanding that manufacturers and dealership owners in Maine go against market forces and limit the sale of cars that Mainers depend upon, in favor of vehicles that we don’t currently have technology or the necessary infrastructure to support, is unwise,” said Golden in the press release. “The bill I voted for would prevent such a mandate.”
“Currently, the Second District does not have the infrastructure to support a widespread switch to Zero Emissions Vehicles,” the statement continued. “According to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, since 2020 there has only been an annual one percent increase in the number of registered battery powered and plug-in electric vehicles.”
In his press release, Golden also noted the ongoing battle in Maine concerning the Maine Board of Environmental Protection’s (Maine BEP) impending adoption of California-style electric vehicle (EV) mandates.
Under these proposed regulations — brought onto the Maine BEP’s docket by the Natural Resource Council of Maine (NRCM) using the citizens’ initiative process — 82 percent of new vehicles sold in Maine would need to be zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) by model year 2032.
Over the summer, the Maine BEP held a public hearing concerning these proposed regulations that drew a massive turnout.
More than 150 showed up in-person for the hearing — leaving standing-room only in the conference room where the meeting was held — and 87 individuals signed up to offer testimony.
Hundreds more ended up submitting written testimony concerning the mandates in the days and weeks that followed.
Several months later, the Maine BEP preliminarily expressed support for the new rules via a straw poll taken earlier this fall.
A follow-up meeting was then scheduled to be held just days before Christmas on December 21, during which members are expected to discuss the controversial mandates and potentially make a final determination on their adoption.
Because the proposed rule change was classified as routine technical — as opposed to major substantive — legislative oversight is not required in order for the mandates to go into effect.
In order to remedy this, Rep. Joshua Morris (R-Turner) attempted to introduce a bill in the Maine State Legislature that would have required legislative oversight for all EV-related rule changes, but this effort was ultimately blocked by members of the Legislative Council.
In Washington DC, Golden was joined by Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola (D-AK), Rep. Photo of Vicente Gonzalez Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Rep. Photo of Donald G. Davis Donald G. Davis (D-NC), and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) in support of the legislation that would block the federal EPA from implementing similar restrictive regulations.
Rep. Pingree has not issued a public statement concerning her decision to vote against this measure.
As of now, it remains to be seen how this federal bill will fare in the coming stages of the legislative process.