As deadline nears for vote on gas-diesel car sale ban, key lawmakers seem unaware

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.

Categories: Legislation

24 replies »

  1. Time to totally disconnect from ANYTHING California is doing. They have 40 million citizens and lots of industry while Vermont has the best air quality in the US, 635,000 citizens and contributes essentially ZERO to atmospheric CO2 (if it was actually a problem anyways). We are not in any climate crisis to warrant demonization of life giving CO2,

  2. I am a former DEC commissioner who advocated continuing the adoption of California Car rules before LCAR in the early 2000’s. Whenever California adopts a new emissions rule, states that want to apply California’s more stringent emissions standards have a limited time to adopt the identical rule. States like Vermont can either follow California or follow the EPA rules by default, and failing to adopt the California rule within the prescribed time is the same as deciding to follow EPA, although there is probably a little wiggle room if the state has begun the process. The point is, you are either 100% California or 100% EPA.

    The notion that Vermont would ban the sale of internal combustion vehicles by 2035 is sheer madness, for all the reasons stated in the article by Senator Benning and the folks in Maine, Colorado, and elsewhere. The only rational choice right now is to reject the California rule and default to the EPA suite of emissions standards.

  3. So,then the question bears asking: WHO is pushing this over the cliff???? How is it that Legislature knows NOTHING about this vote? Adjourned should mean something, not shoving this through under the radar. What is their name??????!

  4. When we don’t insist on REPRESENTATION from out elected officials we get RULING. They pursue their own agendas of the moment and presume we’ll acquiesce in “what’s good for us”. Aren’t we being “treaded upon” here? The participatory government we invented charges us with actively governing ourselves. Considering the Montpelier foolishness we see…IN OUR NAMES, shouldn’t we be setting up our emails and contact lists so we that we can give them our views…daily? We can of course just wait, vote in “the good guys” and hope for the best. But whoever’s there it’s our job to keep them aware of what we want from them.

  5. Even the EPA “rules” are only semi-valid, IF that, thanks to the SCOTUS EPA decision on “regulation” of CO2, as ONLY Congress has the power to write LAWS that will affect OUR economy, OUR futures, OUR living standards. We are DONE with edicts from the alphabet soup agencies & their tentacles reaching down & choking US by un-elected bureaucrats. Look at the EPA, Vt.’s DEC, ANR, etc. etc. with buildings full of well-paid chair-warmers that have done NOTHING remotely “environmentally” to stop/slow the algae “blooms” choking our beaches. When E-Coli levels were going off the charts what did Deb Markowitz do? She just “changed” the “allowable” levels of CRAP from Vt.’s 77/1000 to the “federal” standard of 243/1000..OK Then! Just keep your mouths SHUT when swimming was her “advice”..Either we have a Federal Agency (doing nothing) or state agencies (same) or BOTH doing nothing, why? If our elected FOOLS aren’t going to stop this “action plan” by an UN-ELECTED “council” then WHAT are they elected to do? Stop this insanity, NO MORE “zooming” at the capital, SHOW UP & do your JOBS to get these Greeniacs OFF our backs..

  6. Mark, first you want to give Vermonters a blanket to face the upcoming energy crisis that is also quietly tucked away and now you feign ignorance to your own committee’s vote to dismiss gas engines, time for John Klar to replace you none to soon as Orange County Senator.

    Please download a poster to put up regarding Carbon Tax and the regressive impact it will have. Yes, prices are coming down now, but they’ll rocket back after the election. vthope.net/ctax.html

  7. Where is all this MAGIC ELECTRICITY going to come from?

    Charge your car overnight with your solar panels ?!?!?!

    You hated Vt’s Nuclear power plant, which is about the only way to go
    to get reliable cheap electricity

  8. Ask any member of the Legislature why they support banning IC cars.
    If they mumble something about global warming and CO 2, refer to them as Greta, then show them the data.
    “ current amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere are at their lowest levels in Earth’s history. The level has been falling steadily for over 140 million years. And of course they fail to show a link with temperature, which has risen and fallen throughout the period without any obvious connection. Alternative explanations, some more plausible than others, suggest different forms of plants and life evolved to cope with higher CO2 levels, the sun was cooler in the past, and recent increases in the gas are unprecedented.“


  9. I am a member of LCAR (Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules) and was not asked my position on ANR’s rule making, regarding Vermont following California’s Clean Car Standards by 2035, by anyone from the Chronicle to date. The information coming out of California itself is reason enough not to support this initiative. I will be putting together an OpEd piece that will explain only a few issues that California is dealing with, and how I believe it will be harmful to most Vermonters. Here is a list: incentive money for EV’s running out; EV prices increasing by as much as $15,000 for some EV’s; General Motors is trying to expand its fleet of new vehicles, supply chain problems are making it difficult; Elkind, of UC Berkeley Law, said the lack of available charging stations is particularly tough for renters and people in rural areas; Electric Grid concerns and the list goes on. I was one of only two members, at the time, on the Energy and Technology Committee that voted “No” on the GWSA (Global Warming Solutions Act) realizing then that reducing our carbon emissions needed to be achieved reasonably and with all consideration as to the cost to Vermonters.
    Rep. Mark Higley

    • Your comments are appreciated, Rep. Higley. While I suspect the vote December 1st.
      is a foregone conclusion due to the LCAR members political affiliation- the consequence of that vote will be painful to all of Vermont and particularly painful to the working class of Vermont. Climate evangelicals have certainly impacted Vermont negatively for decades, with the result being higher costs for all energy- electricity, heating fuel and auto fuels. the donor class in Vermont has gotten excellent results for their dollars- but done nothing good for Vermont. As government mandates and attempts to control energy- and now private transportation- no good will come of it. It remains to be seen if this can become a campaign issue, primarily for Governor and Lt. Governor- but it should be, it is an important issue. What the California Air Recourses Board selects as a political path for California should not be a course for Vermont. I am hopeful that you may be able to convince some of the other members of the LCAR committee to vote NO.

  10. No problem. I’ll just move to Orleans Co, buy a horse and buggy and hang out with the Amish! They’ll probably be the only Vermonters who aren’t rich with any way to get around except by foot or on a bike then!

  11. I do not approve of Banning the sale of internal Combustion Engine’s period!!
    Its time for phony Rino Phil Scott and his Cronies friends to move to California!! Don’t you think!! Enough is Enough!!
    Vote Red, Red, Red vote Red period folks!!
    Vote out and Remove the liberal leftist Dem Degusting Swamp Rats 🐀 🐀 🐀period folks!!
    This has nothing to do with the Environment! It’s all about Controlling you the people with a Flick of a Switch period!!
    Wake up Vermonters wake up!!

    • Thank you Senator Benning and Representative Higley for continuing to understand the concerns here and the true ramifications. Thank you as usual for standing up and using common sense and logic to protect Vermonters and Vermont- your work and dedication are very greatly appreciated.

  12. Thank you Senator Benning and Representative Higley for understanding and recognizing the concerns here and the true ramifications. Thank you both for using common sense and logic to continually stand up and work for Vermonters and Vermont. Your dedication and service is greatly appreciated and immensely necessary during these times.

  13. This is “Government” out of control….VOTE THEM OUT…..all including Scott.
    the question is Who is this benefitting, What are the benefits, Where are said benes coming from, and Why is this issue being sneaked in out of session…….I am so Darn Sick to Death of this partisan, absolutely ZERO common sense mode that most of government now abides by……the only thought for me is “follow the money”…….for all questions above. We the People want to know……

  14. encouraging all to take 10 minutes to send email to all on list…..I just did
    the arrogance, the sneak, the lack of COMMON SENSE……has gone from DC to Local level……..thanks much mjwbitty for the link…….

  15. I heard that majority members simply arrive on the day of the vote and look for the sign that directs them to vote “Yes” or “No”. Thus, no need to be “aware” in advance of the vote.

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