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Maine Environmental Regulators to Decide on California-Style Vehicle Emission Standards

by Anna

Maine’s Board of Environmental Protection is set to decide next week whether the state should adopt California-style regulations to significantly limit the sale of new gas-powered vehicles. The proposal, if approved, aims to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and would require 82% of new vehicles sold to be considered zero-emission by the 2032 model year. The move is part of a broader initiative to combat climate change and aligns with efforts in a dozen states that have already adopted California’s standards to boost electric vehicle sales and reduce traditional vehicle sales to meet climate goals.

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Supporters argue that the proposal is a win for consumers, the environment, and aligns with Maine’s history of adopting stronger standards beyond federal baseline requirements. Critics, however, including House Republican leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, question the feasibility of the plan, citing the state’s geography and infrastructure challenges. A public hearing over the summer revealed opposition from many Mainers, with concerns about turning Maine into California.

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The proposal, known as “Advanced Clean Cars II,” would require zero-emission vehicles to constitute 43% of new car sales for 2027 models and 82% of new sales by the model year 2032. This includes electric and fuel-cell vehicles, as well as plug-in hybrids. While the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the trade association representing car and truck manufacturers, supports Maine’s efforts, it emphasizes the need for consumer acceptance and additional charging infrastructure.

The initiative follows an unorthodox path initiated by Maine residents through a citizen-driven process. The “Advanced Clean Cars II” plan has already been adopted by several states, including Vermont, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Delaware, New Jersey, and Virginia. While most of these states adopted the full California standard requiring 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2035, Maine’s proposal stops short of that goal, aiming to strike a balance between environmental goals and practical considerations.

The decision by Maine’s Board of Environmental Protection will play a crucial role in shaping the state’s approach to vehicle emissions standards and contributing to broader national efforts to transition to cleaner transportation options.

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