The state published a controversial proposal this week that would require car manufacturers to make zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) an increasing percentage of their new light-duty vehicle sales as they ramp up to 100% ZEVs by 2035.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the filing of the Advanced Clean Cars II proposal last month, as reported by NJBIZ, which mirrors regulations adopted in California. On Aug. 21, the plan was published by the Office of Administrative Law in the New Jersey Register – kicking off a 60-day comment period that runs through Oct. 20, 2023.
The state says that the rule would not impose any obligations on consumers or car dealers, and that it provides compliance flexibilities for manufacturers, including a credit trading mechanism.
“By filing the ACCII proposal, we build upon our nation-leading record of bold climate action while delivering on our promise to utilize every tool at our disposal to combat the intensifying climate crisis,” Murphy said in July. “Our commitment to bringing the ACCII proposal to fruition is a commitment to every New Jersey family and the air they breathe, air that will be cleaner and healthier tomorrow thanks to the steps we’re taking to reduce emissions today.”
The action was immediately applauded by Murphy officials and allies, clean energy advocates, and other stakeholders.
“Reducing emissions from the vehicle sector, which accounts for more than 40% of emissions in New Jersey, will deliver considerable public health and climate benefits for generations to come,” said Catherine Klinger, executive director, Governor’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy.
“As New Jersey continues experiencing the adverse impacts of climate change, we have the power and obligation to reduce its effects by limiting the emissions of climate pollutants,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette. “Through the adoption of zero-emissions vehicle standards, New Jersey can reduce its greatest source of climate damaging emissions, improve air quality and public health, and support a growing cleantech marketplace that will create even more green jobs in New Jersey and beyond.”
“We are extremely excited for New Jersey’s adoption of Advanced Clean Cars II, getting thousands more electric vehicles on the road while solidifying New Jersey’s role as a climate leader,” said Allison McLeod, senior policy director, New Jersey LCV.
“The Advanced Clean Car II program is one of the most important policies for New Jersey to adopt. The electrification of our cars is our present and our future. The EV market is already here, the manufacturers are committed and the public wants the options. For New Jersey, we need to jump in now. The faster the state makes its commitment to achieve 100% sales of new zero-emission-vehicles, the easier our transition and the greater the consumer choice,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, New Jersey director of the Sierra Club. “The Advanced Clean Cars II targets in New Jersey can help build and maintain market leadership, which is critical to growing jobs.”
But a number of business groups, trade organizations, lawmakers and other stakeholders have immense concerns about the rule proposal, its implementation, cost and other potential ramifications.
“The governor’s mandate on EVs will result in New Jerseyans paying more for their vehicles and fewer residents being able to afford a car at all,” said Eric DeGesero in a statement on behalf of the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey and New Jersey Propane Gas Association. “Furthermore, there is no way our fragile energy grid is capable to handle the surge of electricity demand. As a result, the California Clean Car mandate will ensure California-style rolling brownouts throughout the state.”
“New Jersey’s neighborhood new car and truck dealers oppose this extreme government mandate because it will limit consumer choice and threatens to make new cars unaffordable for working and middle-class families in New Jersey,” said Jim Appleton, president, New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJCAR). “ACCII calls for an increase in EV sales from 9% – where it stands today – to 35% in 2026 and then ramp up further to 100% by 2035. The goal of 100% sales by 2035 is laudable, but not realistic since New Jersey consumers have already demonstrated EV demand can’t keep pace with the more modest government mandates already imposed under the current California Clean Cars rules.”
Appleton added that while dealerships are “all-in” on EVs, the group disagrees with the Murphy administration blindly imposing California’s plan on New Jersey consumers and ignoring other available clean car options to give residents more choices.
“In the end, consumers will decide when New Jersey becomes a 100% EV market, NOT government decision-makers or a governor who won’t even be in office when these mandates kick in and won’t have to deal with the economic and consumer impacts of ACCII,” said Appleton. “Adopting this California policy, when more flexible options are available, is all-advised.”
“While there is nothing wrong with reducing emissions, it is highly doubtful that New Jersey’s existing and planned EV charging infrastructure could support a dramatic change in such a compressed timeframe,” said New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) Deputy Chief Government Affairs Officer Ray Cantor. “Such a steep ramp-up in electric-only vehicles over 12 years in New Jersey seems impractical, if not impossible. Such a policy also begs the obvious question of where all this increased electricity will be sourced from.”
Senate Republican Leader Anthony Bucco, R-25th District, echoed the concerns, saying the plan goes too far, too fast — and will be too expensive for lower- and middle-class families.
“If Gov. Murphy cared about middle- and lower-class families then he wouldn’t keep pushing these regressive high-cost energy policies. If vehicle manufacturers are only allowed to sell EVs in the state, there will come a time when EVs are the only choice for our residents unless they take their business out of state,” said Bucco. “These extreme energy policies are going too far, too fast and will cost working families too much to implement successfully. Consumers should have the option to purchase and drive EVs, hybrids, and gas-powered vehicles. The government has no right to limit the choice of consumers.”
Senate Republicans also disagreed with the notion that the plan would not impose any obligations on consumers or car dealers, and accused the governor of circumventing the Legislature.
“The Legislature must have a seat at the table. Gov. Murphy should not have sole authority over the implementation of his extreme Energy Master Plan,” said Bucco. “Taxpayers and energy utilities simply cannot afford the cost and continued maintenance of the public and private charging infrastructure necessary to coincide with this imprudent mandate. This upcoming public comment period presents a unique opportunity for taxpayers and relevant stakeholders to make Gov. Murphy understand that this rule is bad news for New Jersey.”
The public comment form can be found here.