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Op-ed

Gov. Hogan, we need your help to protect Marylanders: Adopt Clean Car standards before the end of the year | GUEST COMMENTARY

An electric car and a plug-in hybrid car charge at a public charging station on Oct. 12, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Several states have adopted California's stricter standards for tailpipe emissions and a mandate for automakers to get more zero-emission vehicles onto sales lot. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images/TNS)

By issuing one order, Governor Larry Hogan can capitalize on Maryland’s best opportunity to significantly mitigate climate pollution and reduce our state’s reliance on costly, volatile fossil fuels.

In 2007, Maryland enacted the bipartisan Clean Cars Act, which requires the state to adopt and maintain California’s vehicle emissions standards pursuant to Section 177 of the federal Clean Air Act. Maryland must give a two-year notice to vehicle manufacturers before it can enforce the standards. When California adopts new emissions standards, Maryland must adopt the same standards within the calendar year.

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This year, the California Air Resources Board approved the Advanced Clean Cars II standard, requiring 100% of new cars and light trucks sold in the state to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Many other states — including Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — have taken steps to adopt the regulation. If Maryland does not adopt this rule by the end of 2022, we will not be able to enforce the Clean Cars program for Model Year 2026. This will unnecessarily delay the increased production of zero-emission vehicles, making it harder for Maryland to accomplish its greenhouse gas reduction goals. It is up to Hogan to ensure that Maryland adopts these regulations before this critical deadline.

The Advanced Clean Cars II program will reduce climate emissions and pollution in our state. These standards direct car manufacturers to accelerate production of pollution-free cars and enhance equity in the transition to a zero-emission future. As domestic car companies are hiring more employees to design and build new electric vehicles, this program will create jobs here in Maryland. The standards would also provide certainty to consumers that electric vehicles will retain their market value by possessing all necessary long-term durability and manufacturer warranty features that consumers expect.

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Adopting these standards is imperative at a time when the stakes could not be higher. The United States is falling behind its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in large part because we are failing to transition away from vehicles powered by fossil fuels. A recent presentation from the Maryland Department of Environment demonstrated that we will need to adopt the Advanced Clean Cars II regulations to achieve our goal of 60% emissions reductions within the next decade, as required by the Climate Solutions Now Act that the governor recently allowed to be enacted. Not only will continued reliance on fossil fuels destabilize America’s energy economy and inequitably hurt Marylanders at the gas pump, but the greenhouse gases will also negatively impact the health and safety of future generations. Adopting the Clean Cars II standard is necessary if we want to minimize the risk of deadly temperature changes, eroding shorelines and devastating ecosystem collapses in Maryland.

We should not wait until the next Administration to adopt these standards; we need Governor Hogan to act before the end of the year. Failure to adopt these standards by then will hurt Marylanders because manufacturers will not be directed to sell electric vehicles in the state, which will make it more difficult for us to tackle climate pollution.

When Governor Hogan announced that Maryland would be joining the National Climate Challenge to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2021, his administration stated that it would work to curb greenhouse gas emissions, grow the economy, and strengthen community resilience. Adopting the Advanced Clean Cars II program would accomplish these goals and much more on behalf of Marylanders.

We urge the governor to adopt these regulations and end his administration by protecting Marylanders for generations to come.

Kumar Barve (kumar.barve@house.state.md.us) is chair of the House of Delegates’ Environment and Transportation Committee. He and his co-authors, Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo (david.fraser.hidalgo@house.state.md.us) and Del. Marc Korman (marc.korman@house.state.md.us) are Democrats representing Montgomery County.


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