The Washington Post

Md. hits gas on move to electric

RULES WOULD APPLY TO NEW CARS BY 2035 Accelerati­ng shift aimed at reducing emissions


Maryland is taking steps toward adopting a California rule approved last year that requires all new vehicles sold in the state to be electric by 2035.

The state Department of the Environmen­t is expected to approve a new regulation, which would go into effect in September, that phases out new gas-powered car sales over the next dozen years, state officials announced this week.

The move, which is one of the first environmen­tal actions taken by Gov. Wes Moore (D) since his inaugurati­on in January, was hailed by environmen­tal advocates as “historic” and panned by Republican critics as “completely irresponsi­ble.”

The accelerati­ng shift away from gasoline is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s transporta­tion sector, which accounts for the largest share of emissions in Maryland, according to the Department of the Environmen­t. The agency in a report last fall outlined a need for more stringent requiremen­ts to keep Maryland on track to reduce pollution and detailed a need for swifter implementa­tion of electric vehicles.

The regulation is more aggressive than what the federal government calls for. President Biden signed an executive order two years ago that called for 40 to 50 percent of the country’s annual sales be battery electric, fuel cell and plugin hybrid vehicles by 2030.

Maryland is one of 17 states that agreed to follow California’s emission standards, which federal law allows to be stricter than the standards in place by the federal government.

In August, California adopted new Advanced Clean Cars II regulation­s that set annual zero-emission vehicle and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales requiremen­ts for model years 2026 to 2035. Several governors immediatel­y followed California’s lead and implemente­d the newer standards designed to mitigate pollution and to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

But former governor Larry Hogan (R) did not act despite efforts from environmen­talists and Democratic lawmakers urging him to do so.

“All the governor had to do was pass regulation­s, but he chose not to,” said Del. David Fraser-hidalgo (D-montgomery), who was one of three delegates who wrote Hogan in September asking him to take action. “It was extraordin­arily unfortunat­e because this sends signals to the manufactur­ers as to which states to send electric vehicles to. So what he did was make it harder, a little bit harder, to get as many electric vehicles in Maryland as in the other states.”

Chris Hoagland, the director of air and radiation for the Department of the Environmen­t, said in an interview Tuesday that the new standard increases the new sales percentage that are zero emission over time until it hits the 100 percent goal in 2035. The new cars must be battery electric, fuel cell or plug-in hybrid vehicles, he said.

Hoagland said the state is also making investment­s in infrastruc­ture to ensure that charging stations are available on interstate­s and for drivers to use in their own driveways.

House Minority Leader Jason C. Buckel (R-allegany) predicted that the action will cause stress on the household budgets of Maryland residents.

“It is both unfortunat­e and counterpro­ductive that Gov. Moore has made the false choice to move forward with this radical environmen­tal policy that has not been vetted for its impact on our state,” Buckel said in a statement. “This is a policy that was created in California. It is based on California’s economy, California’s transporta­tion needs, and California’s electrical grid.”

Fraser-hidalgo said the Republican opposition is based on old data, given that the prices of electric vehicles have dropped and that the state and federal government­s offer incentives for drivers to buy the cars.

“Electric vehicles are becoming cheaper,” he said. “There’s more competitio­n, which is driving down price.”

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