“Taxation without representation is tyranny.”
A common saying in New England leading up to the American Revolution, this was a challenge to the idea that the King had no right to force American colonists to pay taxes to the Crown but have no elected representatives in either house of Parliament to help shape the laws and policies under which they must live.
The same principle applies to a soon to be finalized rule from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP), under the authority of just 150 signatures on a petition and the votes of at least four of seven members of Maine’s Board of Environmental Protection (MBEP).
Maine’s New Car Market Controlled by California
In a preliminary vote earlier this fall, MBEP voted 4-2 to move forward with the rule. Before Christmas, they will make their final decision. The rule literally cites California law as the governing entity with phrases such as “in accordance with Title 13, California Code of Regulations Section 1961.4” and “required by Title 13, California Code of Regulations Sections 2118 or 2127.”
This new rule not only gives the power to control new car purchases in Maine to California legislators, it also defers control to a board in California appointed without any input from Mainers who will also have no right to appeal any of its decisions.
From the rule: “No person or other entity, including a manufacturer or dealer, shall deliver for sale or lease, offer for sale or lease, sell or lease, import, deliver, purchase, lease, rent, acquire, or receive a new vehicle subject to this Chapter in or into Maine unless the vehicle has received a CARB Executive Order.”
Soon, new car sales in Maine will be governed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), a 16-member board, 12 of whom are appointed by the Governor of California and confirmed by their state senate. Mainers have no say whatsoever in who serves on this board.
The rule will require that 43% of new cars sold in Maine beginning three years from now be “Zero Emission Vehicle” (ZEV) and in nine years that number reaches 82%. In essence, this rule is designed to remove gas-powered autos and hybrids from Maine roads.
This does not set up a similar board made up of Mainers based on similar ideas. That would be too risky for environmentalists who fear another Republican governor could be elected and appoint members with less favorable ideas. By ceding the authority over our own lives to Californians, the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) has succeeded in virtually guaranteeing that the extreme policies of the nation’s most liberal state will hold sway in Maine—whether Mainers like it or not.
Beyond the constitutionality of stripping Mainers of their autonomy to control their own lives and public policies, California’s policies are not one size fits all, and certainly not one size fits Maine. California is nothing like Maine. For example, it leads the nation with more than 14 million registered automobiles on the road, nearly twice the next highest state. At 414,725 registered autos, Maine ranks 41st.
People living in Mattawamkeag should not have to live under rules designed to govern the Kardashian’s Bentleys.
What Else in Maine Should Californians Govern?
Should the Portland International Jetport be required to follow the rules governing Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the nation’s third busiest airport? Of course not.
This, however, is the same principle behind what Maine’s political leaders are about to allow to occur regarding who buys what kind of new car in Maine.
Among the boldest lies contained in the draft rule, submitted by the hopelessly dishonest NRCM is that the rule helps satisfy Maine’s Climate Action Plan because it will “ensure communities and citizens who are often left behind can benefit from climate solutions by having access to opportunities and protection from threats.”
Perhaps Maine’s Poorest Can Just Walk
NRCM has twisted some logic in order to claim that those who live in Maine’s poorest communities can somehow avoid being “left behind” when they become obligated to pay thousands of dollars more than they would otherwise pay for a type of car they cannot afford and have no interest in.
In a state with the worst personal income growth in the nation—the ONLY state where income fell recently—this is the height of arrogance and ignorance. Arrogance that the state’s environmental community believes they know what is right for everyone else and so can bypass simple tenets of Democracy to force their whims on the rest of us, and ignorance of the actual impact their actions are going to have on the poorest of Mainers.
According to Chevrolet, for example, the MSRP of their basic hatchback, the Sonic, is $16,295. The all-electric equivalent, the Bolt, starts at $26,500. A 60% price jump.
Recently, the Press Herald ran a story pointing out that only 8% of used vehicles for sale in Maine today are priced under $20,000. By eliminating new gas-powered vehicles and hybrids, the cost of a new car will rise significantly, pushing potential new car buyers into used cars, thus raising the cost of those as well.
NRCM has repeatedly argued that the low number of EVs on Maine roads is the result of auto manufacturers conspiracy to deprive Mainers by not making and offering enough of these vehicles available to them.
The fact is people across the U.S. remain uninterested in EVs. “Ford has postponed $12 billion in spending on EV manufacturing capacity, warning that electric vehicles are too expensive and that demand is slowing.” They are not alone. Other automakers are also cutting investment and abandoning manufacturing targets.
The current strike by autoworkers is based on the reality that any increase in EV production will move jobs to China where EV batteries are made under climate-abusive conditions fueled by coal and oil-fired factories. Since these batteries make up the largest part of a new electric automobile, along with a much simpler electric engine, there will be far less need for auto assemblers here in the U.S.
In response to the evolution of the industry away from this need for workers, the UAW is demanding a 40% raise in pay. The idiocy of that position will have to wait for another column some other time.
As described by the Associated Press, “If electric vehicles replace gas-powered ones, most UAW workers at engine and transmission plants will lose their jobs. And if lower-paying battery plants aren’t union, workers won’t have anywhere to get the same wages and benefits.”
The roll back of future EV plans by automakers leaves environmental groups resorting to force. If they take away gas-powered autos, pretending it has some inherent benefit they cannot demonstrate with evidence or logic, buyers will be forced to buy EVs—and those Democrat-voting organized labor types be damned.
With fewer EVs coming off the assembly lines, the new rule in Maine will necessarily mean fewer new cars of all kinds on dealer lots, further hiking the demand for and cost of used vehicles for Mainers.
The Rule Will Have no Significant Impact on Maine’s Climate
If Maine state government forcibly removed every gas-powered vehicle from our roads and allowed only ZEVs, we would eliminate barely one half of one mmt of CO2 emissions annually. California automobiles emit 148 times that of Maine autos, despite all of the measures taken in that state to reduce CO2.
Does it make any sense at all that we are letting them dictate policy to us? Using the same logic, we should be letting South Carolina control our lobster industry.
You don’t farm out policymaking to someone who is worse at it than you are. Crazy as it sounds, that is exactly what Maine is about to do.
This massive interference in the lives of Mainers will have no significant impact on the climate, and it will do nothing to put more ZEVs on Maine roads. Despite its false promises, backed by no research nor any empirical evidence, it will not even slow the influx of dirty air or out of state vehicles into Maine. In the end, these supposedly “clean” vehicles with a larger initial carbon footprint than gas-powered autos, run on electricity, more than half of which in Maine comes from fossil fuels.
Why are we doing this to our fellow Mainers? Because 150 people signed a petition, and at least four members of a non-elected board told us we must. This is not Democracy, and it is embarrassing that we live in a state whose policies are based on such a ridiculous lack of supporting research and evidence.