L.D. 2261: Say over vehicle emissions standards

An Act Regarding New Motor Vehicle Emissions Rules.
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The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has worked on the emissions standards for more than a year.
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Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law on April 12 that will give lawmakers, instead of the Board of Environmental Protection, the final say on vehicle emissions standards meant to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. 

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has worked on the emissions standards for more than a year.

As initially proposed, they would have required increasing the share of zero-emissions and near-zero emissions cars and trucks sold in Maine to 51 percent of all vehicles sold in 2028 and 82 percent of all vehicles sold in 2032.

The state Board of Environmental Protection, a group of seven appointed members that guides and oversees DEP, voted against the changes in late March.

The new law classifies the standards as “major substantive” rather than “routine technical.” Major substantive rules require approval by lawmakers; routine technical rules require approval by the BEP. 

Supporters say the emissions standards are significant and should be overseen by elected officials, while opponents argue that the law increases obstacles to implementing climate policies and jeopardizes the state’s ability to meet its emissions goals. 

Read the full bill on the legislature’s website.

Here are some excerpts from testimony:

For:

“This issue is complex and controversial. When a provisionally adopted major substantive rule is properly submitted and then referred to the committee of jurisdiction, it serves as the vehicle through which the committee recommends whether and how the rule should be adopted. This allows the public to be properly notified of a public hearing. This allows the people we as Mainers elect to the legislature to … vote on a matter that is important and affects all Maine citizens.” ~ Megan Diver, Maine Energy Marketers Association

“Rural economies, which may not have the infrastructure to support such a change, are unfairly targeted by the implementation of these rules. Rural economies deserve to have their elected state senator or representative stand up for their best interests.” ~ Dana Doran, Professional Logging Contractors of the Northeast

Against:

“Classifying all future motor vehicles’ air quality standards as ‘major substantive rules’ would meddle in the state’s routine updates to vehicle air pollution standards, resulting in unprecedented delays in air quality improvements.” ~ Lance Boucher, American Lung Association

“Undermining a year-long deliberative process through last-minute retroactive intervention is a bad approach to policy. Putting up obstacles to adopting critical climate and consumer-choice policies going forward would set Maine back, put the achievement of our statutory climate targets in jeopardy, and leave Maine people out of the benefits of the clean energy transition in a way they will feel every time they pay more at the gas pump.” ~ Jack Shapiro, Natural Resources Council of Maine

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Kate Cough

Kate Cough is editor of The Maine Monitor. She previously served as enterprise editor for The Monitor while also covering energy and the environment and writing the weekly Climate Monitor newsletter. Before joining The Monitor, Kate was a beat reporter for The Ellsworth American and digital media strategist for The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. Kate graduated with honors from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Magna Cum Laude from Bryn Mawr College. Kate is an eighth generation Mainer, who lives on Mount Desert Island with her husband, daughter, and dogs.
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