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Moore: Maryland must sell only electric vehicles by 2035

Gov. Wes Moore joyfully dangled the keys of a 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT, outside Montgomery Park Monday afternoon. Like a 16-year-old who just got his license, the now chauffeured governor entered the all-electric vehicle with glee.

But when Moore turned the ignition of the $46,000 vehicle, there was no familiar vroom from the engine that’s powered by a large battery instead of gasoline. Instead, the vehicle was quiet with a barely noticeable whoosh as it moved down the road when he took it for a spin.

“I intend to be governor for the next 8 years,” said Moore as he exited. “This may be the only time I get to drive.”

Moore joined Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Serena McIlwain along with other state and local elected officials to announce a commitment to Advanced Clean Cars II.

Trailblazed by California, the vehicle emissions standard seeks to increase the share of electric vehicles. In Maryland, the goal is to have all new passenger cars and trucks sold, have zero-emissions by 2035.

“Car exhaust is the largest source of greenhouse gas in the state of Maryland,” Moore said. “[It’s] bigger than homes and businesses, bigger than factories, bigger than power plants. It's car emissions.”

To adopt the rule as quickly as possible, the Maryland Department of the Environment presented the proposed regulation to the state’s Air Quality Control Advisory Council at its first meeting of the year Monday morning.

The council voted to recommend that the department move forward in proposing a regulation to enact the new standards. The state’s environmental regulation authority will follow the process for a proposed regulation, which includes a public hearing and opportunity for public comment, to allow for a regulation to take effect in September.

“The Advanced Clean Cars II regulation is a big step toward cleaner air and a more aggressive response to the threats posed by climate change,” said McIlwain, the state’s secretary for the environment.

Supporters of the measure want the adoption to move quickly, saying there are economic, and health benefits to electric vehicles.

“We are literally changing the world one charge at a time,” said Brendan Jones, president of Blink Charging in Bowie. “Chargers and the systems and the subsystems that support them, provide high tech, well paid jobs. And for Blink, many of those jobs are going to be located right here in Maryland. When we think of EVs, and we think of EV infrastructure, see it as a jobs program.”

Kim Coble, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, supports the plan saying there will be environmental benefits.

“Maryland LCV applauds Governor Moore and Secretary McIlwain for taking consequential and bold action to ensure Maryland is a national leader in fighting the impacts of climate change,” Coble said. “Their commitment and leadership are clear indicators that great things are ahead for Marylanders and our environment.”

But not everyone is on board with this idea.

In a statement House Republicans blasted the governor’s speed in adopting the new standards.

“The average price of an electric car is over $60,000 – the price of a luxury vehicle. This is not something that is affordable for many Maryland families,” said House Minority Whip, Jesse Pippy.

Proponents counter this argument pointing to lower maintenance costs for EV’s. There are also state and federal tax incentives for their purchase.

“All it will do is put more stress on the household budgets of Marylanders. It is completely irresponsible,” said House Minority Leader, Jason Buckel.

Republicans are also calling for action on House Bill 487 — Affordable Emissions Standards Act of 2023 — that would require studies of the impact on Maryland’s economy, the state’s budget, and the effect on Maryland’s power grid before this new regulation could go into effect.

Wambui Kamau is a General Assignment Reporter for WYPR. @WkThee
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