Mark Uncapher, is serving as President of the Montgomery County Republican Club. Mark is a long-time party activist who previously served as the Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee.
Maryland Bans Gas-Powered Car Sales in 2035
Gov. Wes Moore to the State: Leave Your Affordable Cars Behind
Governor Wes Moore announced Monday that the State would issue regulations requiring “manufacturers to continuously increase the share of electric vehicles they sell, reaching 100% of passenger car and light truck sales by model year 2035.” [i]
That’s right, no gas-powered vehicles will be sold in the State in a little more than a decade.
The announcement reflects Maryland’s adoption of the multi-state Advanced Clean Cars II rule. Maryland joins California, Massachusetts, New York, and other states to mandate that by 2035 all new cars, trucks, and SUVs run on electricity or hydrogen.[ii] [iii]
And yet, minimal discussion of this massive change occurred during last year’s campaign. Although, the Duckpin did indeed warn last September that the policy was likely coming:
As previously noted in the Duckpin, last year the Maryland legislature passed the Climate Solutions Now Act (SB 528), which requires the Maryland Department of the Environment to submit a proposed plan to the Governor and the General Assembly that reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 60% from 2006 levels by 2031.[iv] Then by December 31, 2023, the Department must adopt a final plan to meet the 2031 goal, which sets the State on a path toward achieving net-zero statewide GHG emissions by 2045.
Governor Hogan sharply criticized last year’s bill as: “poor legislative practice and misguided resources resulting from partisan politics.”[v] He expressed his hope that his predecessor would address its flaws. During the Governor’s tenure, Maryland had already reduced greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 30% while growing the economy by 22%.
Last year’s partisan legislation set significantly more challenging targets to meet. It left the responsibility to fill in the details to Maryland’s next Governor and the Department of Environment. The General Assembly again engaged in “auto-pilot government” to evade political responsibility for the hard choices they intend to impose on the public. For example, State law had already mandated in 2007 that any future California’s “Clean Cars” emission standards would automatically apply to Maryland.[vi]
Without significant technological breakthroughs, this goal would mean eliminating the production of electricity from coal and natural gas within the next 12 years. Yet fossil fuels provide more than 60 percent of the nation’s electricity. [vii]
Achieving the decarbonization objective will require enormous investments and drive up energy costs. The average price of electricity would almost double by 2035 (increasing from $60/MWh to $110/MWh in 2035). [viii] Electric rates would increase the most in the southern and eastern parts of the U.S. [ix]
The potential cost to Maryland’s consumers would be massive, starting with the cost of a car. According to Kelley Blue Book, the average transaction price for an electric vehicle in April 2021 was $51,532. That’s more than $11,000 higher than a full-size gas-powered car, and nearly $30,000 more than the average compact car.[x] Less than 2% of the vehicles currently registered in the State are all-electric vehicles, with the overwhelming majority located in Anne Arundel, Howard, and Montgomery counties.[xi]
Data on electric charging costs have something of a bait-and-switch nature.[xii] As climate change policies drive higher electric rates, the “total cost of ownership” of electric vehicles also increases. And unless the electric production transition to all renewable is completed in time, much of the power will come from CO2-intensive sources such as coal. Having to rely on coal-fired produced electric power for automobiles rather than gas negates the transition’s climate advantages.
California is already struggling to meet its electricity demand, with rolling blackouts being threatened. In fact, Californians were asked over last year’s Labor Day weekend not to charge their electric vehicles.[xiii]
Suppose Maryland Democratic legislators really believe that climate change requires banning gas-powered cars in the State. In that case, they should have justified themselves rather than hiding behind their Rube Goldberg administrative process. Likewise, Democratic candidate for Governor Wes Moore should have leveled with voters about his intentions.