The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (Maine BEP) has postponed its expected vote on the controversial California-style vehicle emissions regulations, a package of rules that would eventually all but ban the sale of new traditional gas-powered cars and trucks in Maine.
This comes as a direct result of Gov. Janet Mills’ (D) Civil State of Emergency declaration on December 19 that was issued in response to the deadly and destructive storm that took place on Monday.
Originally scheduled for Thursday, December 21, the Maine BEP has postponed its meeting to an as-of-yet unknown date. More information on the new date and time is expected to be available in the coming days.
Among other items on the agenda for the now-postponed meeting, the Maine BEP was set to vote on a mandate requiring that 43 percent of new cars sold in Maine be zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) by model year 2027 and 82 percent by model year 2032.
It can be expected that this will once again be on the docket for the Maine BEP when they hold the now-rescheduled meeting.
Following one of the state’s worst rain storms in recent memory, Gov. Mills declared a Civil State of Emergency on Tuesday for Androscoggin, Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc, Somerset, Waldo, and Washington Counties.
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 186,000 Central Maine Power (CMP) customers and 46,000 Versant customers are still without power.
By declaring a Civil State of Emergency, “all State of Maine resources [have been mobilized] to assist and support response and recovery efforts and positions the State to seek Federal disaster support in the coming weeks,” according to a press release published by Mills on Tuesday.
The emergency was declared verbally — as is permitted by state statute — and a written copy will be made available to the public shortly after it is filed with the Maine Secretary of State.
Mills’ declaration came more than twenty-four hours after the catastrophic flooding and widespread power outages began impacting Mainers statewide. The governor held a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to address the storm and its impacts.
The Maine BEP published a press release Wednesday afternoon — less than twenty-four hours before their meeting was originally set to begin — announcing that they would be rescheduling their vote on the controversial ZEV mandate in light of the Civil Emergency.
“In consideration of the challenges facing Maine citizens who may wish to participate in the upcoming Board meeting in Augusta,” the Maine BEP wrote, “the Board is postponing its meeting scheduled for December 21, 2023.”
“Additional details regarding rescheduling of the agenda items listed on the December 21, 2023, agenda and notice of rescheduling will be provided as soon as possible,” the Board continued. “Please check the Maine Board of Environmental Protection webpage in the coming days for additional meeting information.”
“Questions regarding this notice may be directed to Board Executive Analyst William Hinkel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your understanding and patience during this challenging time,” the notice concluded.
Public comment concerning the ZEV mandate that is either “directly related to comments received during the formal rulemaking comment period” or “in response to changes to the proposed rule” will be accepted orally at the upcoming BEP meeting.