Pages tagged “Climate Action Plan”
By John McClaughry
Relax, Vermonters. Nothing will prevent you from buying and registering your new gasoline or diesel powered sedan, SUV or light duty truck — until 2035.
Then if the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Vermont Natural Resources Council. Conservation Law Foundation and their allies have their way, if you want to buy a new car or truck, you’ll have only the one choice of buying a California-compliant electric car.
In 1977 California, concerned about the persistent smog in the Los Angeles bowl caused by nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and other harmful tailpipe emissions, obtained a Clean Air Act waiver. It allowed the state to adopt more stringent emission rules than those required of the rest of the country. Vermont signed on as a “California state” in 1996.
California has now amended its rule to require all new cars and light duty trucks sold or registered in the state to be plug-in electric, or possibly fuel cell powered, by model year 2035.
In smog-free Vermont, the motivation for adopting the new California rule is to reduce tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide to meet the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020. The Scott administration is now moving to adopt a rule that conforms Vermont to the new California rule.
The evolution of this EV enthusiasm is interesting. A decade ago, the Vermont environmental machine demanded a sweeping carbon tax to price carbon fuel beyond the reach of ordinary consumers. But “carbon tax” became an alarming word to taxpayers, so the enviros replaced it with euphemisms such as “carbon pricing,” “cap and trade,” “cap and invest,” and “Clean Heat Standard.”
Transportation currently accounts for 40 percent of Vermont’s CO2 emissions. The transportation component of the emissions reduction campaign was called Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). It was to be a 10-state agreement to impose a tax on upstream motor fuel suppliers to drive up the price of gasoline and diesel fuel — and rebate millions of dollars from the TCI taxes to the states to underwrite a large menu of subsidies. It collapsed last fall when states started to bail out.
The Vermont Climate Council is still keen on resurrecting TCI. But with carbon taxes politically unpopular, it and its enviro allies are pushing for state action to pay — rather than tax — motorists to quit using petroleum fuel. The favored way to pay them is to offer increasing subsidies to get them to trade in their gasoline powered cars and buy electric vehicles they don’t much want and can’t otherwise afford. Since EVs are an upper income product, the subsidies have to be greater and greater until even a low income motorist can drive around in a new electric car or truck.
Where will Vermont get the millions of dollars to pay people to switch to EVs? With TCI unavailable to bring in the big bucks, and federal pandemic spending running out, Vermonters are going to have to pay for this.
This problem will neatly be solved — in 2035 — by adopting the California rule: stop paying people, and just prohibit them from buying or registering new internal combustion cars, SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks, whether they like it or not.
As I’ve acknowledged since 2018, EVs have some attractive features: classy looks, quiet rides, avoiding motor fuel price volatility (although risking electric grid price increases), exemption from motor fuel taxes to pay for roads and bridges (for now), and jackrabbit acceleration (if that’s your thing).
There are plenty of EV concerns that will make unattainable the Climate Council’s “pathway” to replacing 164,000 petroleum vehicles with EVs on Vermont’s roads by 2030. Most auto and light truck consumers will continue to choose familiar ICE vehicles because of the EV’s higher cost, uncertain resale value, servicing bottlenecks, range anxiety, slow, crowded and dysfunctional public charging stations, fading battery performance in cold weather and hilly terrain, and if dependent on the power grid for charging, whether the power grid will be dependably available to charge a hundred thousand EVs when needed.
A foreshadowing of that latter problem occurred a month ago when California’s governor was touting its “all EV by 2035” rule, while the state’s power grid regulators, facing a serious threat of blackouts, were pleading with grid-dependent EV owners to stop charging their cars.
The 2035 deadline is far away, but I suspect a lot of Vermont motorists, after making their own choices for the past 120 years, really won’t like the idea of the state forcing them to choose what vehicles state decrees, at the behest of clamoring enviro groups obsessed with arresting the menace of climate change. That’s especially so when eliminating ICE vehicles from Vermont will have no detectable effect whatsoever on arresting climate change.
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.
Other states backing off from joining California 2035 ban
by Guy Page
Many adults share a recurring nightmare that they are back in school, the final exam is upon them, and they haven’t even attended the class all year long. They are going to fail! The eight members of the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) may be living that nightmare over a major rule change in Vermont that would begin restricting the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in 2026 leading up to an outright ban on such sales after 2035.
California passed emissions standards for vehicles sold in that state that will ultimately ban the sale of new gas/diesel powered cars and light trucks by 2035. Other states are required to choose to follow either California’s emissions standards or the federal governments, which are less restrictive. Since 2005, when the California waver was first established, sixteen states have traditionally followed California’s lead, and Vermont is one of them. Vermont now must decide whether or not to stay on the California path to banning ICE vehicles or get back to operating under federal standards, which do not ban ICE vehicles.
LCAR will be voting YES or NO before December 1st. But until Vermont Daily Chronicle contacted the LCAR members and asked them what they were thinking in regard to Vermont and the California car ban, almost none of them appeared to know the issue was even going to come before them, or that they had to be prepared to make a decision.
Senator Chris Bray (D-Addison), who in addition to being a member of LCAR is chair of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, which is a committee of jurisdiction over this issue, responded to VDC’s inquiry, “Such a rule, or even draft rule, is news to me.”
Senator Mark MacDonald (D-Orange), who chairs the LCAR committee, stated, “I’m glad we have over 4470 days until implementation of CA’s newly announced standards. Vermonters will be sifting through it for some time.”
But MacDonald’s arithmetic is wrong by a factor of sixty.
A memo from Athena Dexter-Cooper, the legal counsel for the LCAR committee, is clear, “In terms of timing… the Climate Action Plan [created by the Climate Council formed under the Global Warming Solutions Act] directs ANR [the Agency of Natural Resources] to adopt this suite of rules, with Advanced Clean Cars II being adopted not later than December 1, 2022.” That’s not 4470 days away, it’s less than seventy five. And LCAR needs to let ANR know what their recommendation is before then.
Other states in the same boat as Vermont, those that have traditionally followed California, are aware of what is going on and are taking action to disassociate from the ban.
According to Governing.com, Gov. Janet Mills of Maine says, “she doesn’t support a California-style mandate to phase out all new gasoline-only vehicles by 2035.” And even the Sierra Club of Maine agrees the proposal is just too radical for a small, rural population. “’At this point in Maine, a mandate probably doesn’t make much sense,’ said Anna Wright, the legislative and political strategist at Sierra Club Maine.”
Another such state is Colorado. The Colorado Sun reports, “Colorado regulators, who adopted California’s older rules, won’t follow California’s new ones, the administration of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said.” The article also reports that other states, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Minnesota are balking at the policy as too radical and impractical. Time will tell what the rest decided.
“We obviously have a choice to make here,” said Rob Roper of the Ethan Allen Institute board of directors, who has been following this issue closely, “but the Climate Council and the Agency of Natural Resources under the Scott Administration are behaving as if following California over the cliff is a done deal. This despite the fact that a landslide majority of Vermonters do not approve of this policy.”
Roper was referring to a poll done by The UVM Center for Rural Studies earlier this summer that showed 65% of Vermonters do not approve of banning the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles for the purposes of reducing carbon emissions. Only 15% approved of the policy and 20% were unsure.
“That our elected representatives are apparently clueless as to what’s going on here and what their role is in protecting the interests and desires of their constituents is pathetic. I wish I could say shocking,” said Roper.
ANR and the Climate Council are conducting a series of public meetings on the California vehicle ban but are not presenting the policy as an option to the public. The meetings are simply informing those who show up that the rule will be adopted by Vermont, so get ready, and what the potential impacts might be.
The one LCAR member who responded with clear understanding of the issue and who had thought through the implications was Senator Joe Benning (R-Caledonia), who is also a candidate for Lieutenant Governor. “The [electric] infrastructure [in Vermont] does not currently have the ability to accommodate expected purchases and won’t likely have it for some time. That’s one of the reasons why I have consistently voted against this legislation from the beginning. I tell Vermonters who can’t afford EV’s or can’t use them that they need to get to the polls in November and vote Republican. I’m pretty sure I’ve been on record as saying that for the past 12 years or so.
“I voted against the original GWSA, have consistently argued against it whenever the argument comes up, and will do what I can on LCAR to point out that this will produce an undue and very expensive burden on Vermonters,” said Benning.