This week, a coalition of nearly 100 business, labor and nonprofit groups sent a letter urging Democratic legislative leaders to stop the governor’s recently proposed and controversial Advanced Clean Cars II rule.
As NJBIZ reported last month, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection published a proposal that would require car manufacturers to make zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) an increasing percentage of their new light-duty auto sales as they ramp up to 100% ZEVs by 2035.
The state insists that the rule – which mirrors regulations adopted in California – would not impose any obligations on consumers or car dealers, and that it provides compliance flexibility for manufacturers, including a credit trading mechanism.
The Office of Administrative Law’s publishing of the rule in the New Jersey Register kicked off a 60-day comment period that runs through Oct. 20, 2023.
Immediate backlash has continued to build in recent weeks, leading to the New Jersey Business Coalition (NJBC) writing to Senate President Nick Scutari, D-22nd District, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, describing the proposal as impractical and misguided — and one that will place a great financial burden on every New Jersey family due to the high costs to purchase and maintain an electric vehicle.
The NJBC believes the rule would be detrimental to low- and middle-income residents before 2035, saying it would raise the prices of both used and new cars.
“Banning gas-powered engines would inequitably strain the limited resources of families, businesses, governments, and our electrical utilities,” the NJBC wrote. “We share the governor’s desire to reduce carbon emissions, but the significant disadvantages of this proposal greatly outweigh any potential benefits.”
The group continued that the mandate would cripple communities, businesses, the economy and labor workforce – exacerbating income inequality in the state.
The NJBC also noted that the rule does not consider the feasibility of such a ramp up in new EV sales in the specified, compressed time frame – pointing out that only 8% of new cars sold in New Jersey are currently EVs – as well as the charging infrastructure the move would require.
“Banning internal combustion engines constitutes a monumental change for New Jersey’s residents,” the coalition wrote. “Our state Legislature deserves an opportunity to hear from constituents, take up the issue in regular session and thoroughly debate the merits of the governor’s proposal. It violates the spirit of our democratic system for an issue of such importance to be solely determined by the governor. We encourage you to delay this action until a time when it can earn a vote by the full Legislature in Trenton.”
The letter came on the heels of a new campaign launched earlier this month by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), one of the letter’s signatories, that included flying banner planes over Jersey Shore beaches during the Labor Day holiday weekend urging residents to “Stop NJ’s Gas Car Ban.”
“Even if everyone could afford an EV, New Jersey will not have the infrastructure to support such a massive network of charging stations to be built in a reliable manner in less than 12 years,” said NJBIA Deputy Chief Government Affairs Officer Ray Cantor. “Such a policy also begs the question of where all this increased electricity will be sourced from.”
Cantor stressed that New Jersey has the tools and resources to reduce carbon emissions without “heavy-handed mandates.”
“There are affordable and currently available transportation alternatives like compressed natural gas (CNG) and renewable diesel. Hydrogen vehicles are also in development,” said Cantor. “It should be up to consumers, not governments, to make the best choice on the transportation technology that is right for them. The stakes of this potential ban are high and implementing this rule incorrectly will undermine public confidence.”
The Senate and Assembly Democrats had no immediate comment in response to the letter.
In a statement to NJBIZ, the governor’s office stood by the proposal.
“The Murphy Administration will continue to advance its pursuit of a clean energy future, including through voluntary, incentive-based EV programs that preserve consumer choice while putting money back in the pockets of hard-working New Jerseyans,” Bailey Lawrence, deputy press secretary for Murphy, told NJBIZ in a statement.