Higley: December 1 deadline for rule on 2035 ban on new gas-powered vehicles

Photo credit Burlington Electric Dept.

By Rep. Mark Higley

Vermont’s Global Warming Solutions Act gives statutory authority for rulemaking to the Agency of Natural Resources. The secretary of that agency has until Dec. 1, 2022, to adopt rules to meet the 2025 emissions reductions requirements in the Vermont Climate Action Plan. 

These rules conform to California emissions regulations. California’s clean car standards are much stricter than the federal standards require. I believe Vermont does have the option and should revert to the federal standards.

I believe the Global Warming Solutions Act has given overly broad authority to the agencies, as well as to the unelected Climate Council. The mandates and benchmarks (not goals) for carbon reduction do not allow for the many variables that come up along the way. A pandemic, recession, depression, war and other variables need to be considered when making legislative decisions.

Starting in 2026, automobile manufacturers will have to supply more and more electric vehicles and by 2035 only electric or hydrogen vehicles will be able to be sold in Vermont. Even if other states don’t have this requirement and you purchase out of state, the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles will not allow a nonconforming car to be registered here in Vermont.

It appears that, of the 17 states that were going to follow California’s clean car standards, Colorado in particular and maybe Pennsylvania have decided to bow out. Vermont is not like California in its geography or climate. 

There are currently a number of issues in California with trying to achieve the standard: There are severe pressures on its electric grid, with Gov. Newsom asking residents to turn their thermostats up to 78° this summer; inadequate funding for incentives and rebates for low-income residents; charging stations are mostly in urban areas, leaving inadequate charging for renters and in rural areas; General Motors explaining supply chain issues make it hard to meet demand; a short supply of electric vehicles is driving up costs. 

Environmental justice groups have said that reliability of the electric grid is of concern, but it’s up to the Public Utilities Commission to find the generation.

What about our reliable grid concerns in Vermont? During our hot stretch this summer, Vermont Electric Co-op created a “Defeat the Peak” campaign, asking consumers to not use certain appliances during certain hours. More recently, the co-op has asked for a 10% increase in its rates. 

Where will Vermont’s electric companies get reliable power, considering such mandates, and what of the cost to consumers? At a meeting in September, members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated concerns on whether ISO New England will have the ability to run its gas-fired generation plants because it won’t have enough fuel this winter.

Because of Vermont’s overly ambitious benchmarks, how will we deal with the reduction of revenue from our fuel tax? Twenty-eight percent of Vermont transportation revenue comes from the fuel tax. In 2019, this amount was $77.8 million. 

An average vehicle using 600 gallons a year would realize the state $180 in gas tax. Electric vehicle advocates say we should not impose such a fee on new EV owners for incentive reasons. If we are headed down this road, we should consider such a fee because all users of our highway infrastructure should contribute.

These are very real concerns that we, as legislators, need to realistically consider and work through together with all involved. Just considering carbon reduction benchmarks by the unelected Climate Council is not being realistic. This year alone we will invest $215 million on climate change initiatives like weatherization, the municipal energy resilience grant program, advanced metering infrastructure and electrification initiatives.

Rep. Mark Higley, of Lowell, is a Republican member of the Vermont House of Representatives for the Orleans/Lamoille House district. This column is slightly updated from a previous post.

Categories: Commentary

19 replies »

  1. Between the unreasonable unelected and tyrannical Climate Council, and the nutty state sanctioned DEI movement, the best choice is to leave Vermont.

  2. Not well thought out. Vermont is all about selfish, feel-good legislation. There is a reason no municipal agency has EV emergency response vehicles. What’s next, telling DHMC that to fly DHART in VT it needs to be battery powered?

  3. I better see scott and zuckyman driving an electric car this year if they think its so wonderful. No more racing phony phil ya spineless equity pusher.

  4. So Mark– WHAT exactly, are YOU going to DO about this travesty? (Nothing, as usual) Hell- I asked you to sponsor a no-brainer bill to allow us seniors & others to keep the Homestead Property Tax exemption vs. re-file year AFTER year as seniors who forgot to file or missed the deadline are SCREWED & then must pay an exorbitant rate..YOU DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER to REPLY to a constituent’s e-mail? THANKS “representative” Higley! You know who DID answer & will hopefully sponsor/submit this bill” Sen. Bobby Starr & Lt. Gov. Dave Zuckerman! BOTH non-republicans but Starr’s a social & fiscal conservative & Zuck’s a Dem/Prog but they BOTH actually CARE & respond to constituents and might get this common sense legislation up for a vote..You? Can’t/won’t even send a reply? Thanks, Mark!

  5. BTW– Let’s call E/V’s for what they REALLY are, “Coal Burning Vehicles” (CBV’s), as most all the country still relies on coal in their Base Loads, we have Hydro Quebec, which WE incidentally, PAID FOR in WWII for aluminum production. I once thought “Clean Coal” was misnomer but the USA/Germany has used ESP’s (electrostatic precipitators), particulate capture, Nitrogen Oxide reduction, etc. to get it as clean as we can, unlike China & India. What really irks me is no mention of Tidal Power which IS “green” & totally reliable (see Scotland) 2X a day, EVERY day regardless of weather. Anyone ever been to the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia? It actually ROARS in & God help anyone on the beaches when it does. WHY don’t we capture it?

    • Tide power requires massive infrastructure which will be opposed by hypocritical, wealthy liberals who live in oceanside mansions, just like offshore wind turbines were fought by Ted Kennedy in his favorite sailing waters off Nantucket.

  6. Steve Merril is correct. EV vehicles, as well as solar and wind are nothing more than virtue signaling. Not only that they actually are much more polluting if one considers the mining of the metals needed for these technologies, but also then the disposal when the parts etc. fail. We should not give statutory regulatory authority to any group of unelected people. Ditto with the make work program for having to file the homestead exemption every year. That is nothing more than bureaucratic excellence intended to make it cumbersome for every permanent full time resident to secure their homestead status. No other states of which I am aware require this. M

  7. If you are awestruck by the overt stupidity of Vermont’s legislative majority party, keep in mind that they were voted into office by a majority of Vermont voters. When you are out in public, on the highway, at the grocery store etc look around and know that you are surrounded by fools.

  8. What happens when mice decide to make your EV their home and begin to rewire this and that as they munch on various wires. Also what will happen when our shaky grid is hit with a hypersonic blast? All of that copper and also battery components must be mined and processed. That ought to be real green.

  9. Most people that we see out and about day in and day out are not concerned with any of this until it becomes their problem. While the rest of the country motivates around in their gas powered vehicles they won’t be coming to Vermont as tourist, leaf peepers, hunters, fishermen or any other reason because there won’t be any gas stations. While Vermonters could go to NH to buy a gas vehicle, Vermont won’t allow it to be registered here. So when people with very little money can’t buy an EV (CBV) coal burning vehicle what will they do? What about tourist buses coming in to the state, will they be banned from our roads? The problems these nit wits are going to cause will be insurmountable. And after total chaos is achieved, the climate will be the same as it was before crazy hit Vermonters. And Rich above is so right, look around and see the fools that voted for this and all the other problems brought to your doorstep by day dreaming legislators from out of state here to help you!

  10. Just for gits, and shigles, let’s say that the battery went dead on my new electric SUV or pick up while I was on the VELCO line in Ferdinand or Lewis 5 miles from the nearest real road, and 20 miles from the nearest service station this weekend. As usual, my cellphone has no bars here. If I have a gas powered vehicle I begin walking until I get picked up by a “good samaritan”, go to a gas station, and get a couple of gallons of gas, and call a friend to give me a ride back to my truck. I could be wrong, but I think it would be a little more involved, and a lot more expensive to get a charge vehicle out there, that is if you could even get one to go there.

    • This has already happened….in my little town in the NEK. A neighbor had a friend visit a few months back. From Connecticut in an EV (CBV). I think the car was a mustang. He got here OK, but there were no charging stations (There may be some tesla charging stations nearby NOW….but) anyhoo. NO place to charge, car went dead. Had to have it towed to a charging station that apparently took forever to charge this vehicle as it wasnt exactly compatible. (I don’t know the exact particulars around that) Anyway, some hours later the guy was on his way back to Connecticut, never to return in an CBV again. 😉

  11. You would have to backpack a generator Mr. Finnie. Also a couple of gallons of gas.
    Hope the squirrels don’t move in while you are doing that.

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